Angels draw first blood

Petro Gazz middle blocker MJ Phillips gets an attack past PLDT Mika Reyes in Game 1 of the PVL All-Filipino Conference best-of-three semifinals on Saturday. (PVL photo)

Petro Gazz rallied from a set down to repel PLDT, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21, 25-18, in Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference best-of-three semifinals series Saturday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

Jonah Sabete led the way as the Angels inched closer to a second straight Finals appearance after claiming the Reinforced Conference crown last December.

The wing spiker blasted most of her 18 points in a telling run that created enough separation to take control of the fourth set for Petro Gazz, which could close the series on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Defending champion Creamline defeated F2 Logistics, 26-24, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15, in the other Final Four pairing. Another win by the Cool Smashers and the Angels will set up a rematch of their last year’s Open Conference.

“I cannot say we dominated. PLDT played well, they’re a really great team. But great teams will just push us forward and I’m always saying it,” Petro Gazz coach Oliver Almadro said as his squad exacted revenge over its elimination round tormentor.

Sabete hammered 14 kills, three kill blocks and an ace while chipping in on defense with 11 excellent receptions.

MJ Phillips got 17 points, Remy Palma finished with 14 while Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Grethcel Soltones posted 13 and 10 markers, respectively, for the Angels.

Starting setter Djanel Cheng, who had six points, dished out 18 excellent sets that paved the way for Petro Gazz’s 61 attack points.

The Angels shook off the High Speed Hitters in the fourth frame after a tightly-contested first three sets with Sabete igniting a 12-3 run to build a 21-12 advantage.

Jovelyn Prado tried to rally PLDT back, helping her squad save five match points only to commit a sorry miscue that ended the two-hour, 12-minute match.

Prado had 18 points, 14 digs and 11 excellent receptions while Mean Mendrez and Mika Reyes scored 11 each.

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