PVL: Cignal nails first finals berth despite Petro Gazz victory

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Cignal HD Spikers. PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Cignal lost to Petro Gazz, 14-25, 21-25, 27-25, 19-25, but still clinched the first Finals berth in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference by virtue of superior set ratio on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.

The HD Spikers finally made their finals breakthrough after the Angels blew a 24-21 advantage in the third set. Petro Gazz, which drew a game-high 30 points from Lindsey Vander Weide, needed to beat Cignal in straight sets to clinch a championship berth.

The Angels and the HD Spikers ended the semis round with similar 2-1 slates.

Tai Bierria willed the HD Spikers scoring four of her 15 points down the stretch in the third set to lift her team ahead, 26-25, before Ria Meneses drilled the winning attack which sealed Cignal’s first-ever PVL finals.

The HD Spikers celebrated inside the court after winning the third, knowing that incase of a triple tie at 2-1 and six points, they would still come away with the highest set ratio with seven set wins against four losses.

Petro Gazz still has a chance to arrange a best-of-three finals against Cignal on Thursday if Creamline loses to Chery Tiggo or if the Cool Smashers and Crossovers’ duel reaches five sets.

A win by Creamline in three or four sets will clinch an eighth straight finals appearance for the Cool Smashers at the expense of the 2019 Reinforced Conference champion Petro Gazz.

The Angels fought back from a 14-15 deficit in the fourth set as Vander Weide ignited their 5-0 run for a 20-15 lead before Bierria trimmed it to a two-point game, 21-19, but Petro Gazz scored four straight points capped by the 30th point of its American import to win the game.

“Cignal was obviously fighting for it. They didn’t wanna let us have it in three sets. There were also some errors that I personally made that kinda happened out of just pure too much energy,” said Vander Weide. “But, we bounced back in the fourth, obviously, and that feels good. But of course, we would have loved to do it in three.”

With their fate still hanging on the result of the ongoing second game, Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort accepted the result after a convincing win, where his locals also stepped up.

“We’ll take it as long as we win.  Sayang but we’re really eyeing to win this game. We’ll just wait for the result of the second game,” said Ricafort in Filipino. “Our fate is no longer in our hands. But at least we worked hard. The expectations were high. We needed to win in straight sets but even if we didn’t achieve it at least we won.”

MJ Phillips also stepped up for the Angels with 13 points on seven blocks, four attacks, and an ace. Aiza Maizo-Pontillas had 10 points, Remy Palma added seven markers, and setter Djanel Cheng also scored seven on top of 16 excellent sets.

Cignal was carried by Bierria’s 15-point effort. Meneses had eight markers, while Rose Doria and Ces Molina had seven markers each with Gel Cayuna dishing out 22 excellent sets on top of six points from three aces.

Even though they are bound to the Finals, the HD Spikers coach Shaq Delos Santos begged off from an interview through their team manager Ken Ucang.

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