MANILA, Philippines — Displaying mental toughness, Petro Gazz rediscovered its winning ways fending off also-ran but gritty Farm Fresh, 25-22, 19-25, 25-16, 26-24, to keep its semifinal hopes alive in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.
After a 4-0 start in the tournament, the Angels went downhill with four consecutive losses. Coach Timmy Sto. Tomas challenged his wards to use those setbacks as motivation especially since they are in a must-win situation in their remaining games.
“I’ve said earlier, it’s more of motivation for us to keep on performing well. We faced stronger and high caliber teams these past few games so those teams only kept us moving forward so given that we were able to improve our skills,” said Sto. Tomas in Filipino.
“In our past four games, we lacked patience inside the court even when we’re always up by like four or five points but then again we dropped the set or our opponent will force a close fight. It’s more of how you’re going to handle those kinds of situations, patience inside the court, mental toughness, and discipline.”
The Angels showed their composure against the Foxies, who pushed them to their limits led by Trisha Tubu. Alyssa Bertolano’s ace and Djanel Cheng’s double-setting violation put Farm Fresh on the brink of forcing a fifth set with a 24-23 lead.
Petro Gazz dodged a bullet after Kate Santiago’s attack went out to force a deuce before Grethcel Soltones put on the finishing touches with back-to-back kills to end the Angels’ skid and improve to a 5-4 record in sixth place.
“My mindset after those losses is we have nothing to lose,” said Soltones, who scored 16 points and 12 excellent receptions. “Coach Timmy told us not to rush. Our blocking and defense went well. My setter and I also communicated, I followed her suggestion [to gain match point] and the last point was my decision.”
Jonah Sabete, who topscored with 21 points including three blocks, credited her game to the trust of playmaker Djanel Cheng and the non-stop reminder of their coaches.
“I always remind myself to keep on working and follow our coaches’ system that when you commit an error, you make up for it by scoring a point. It’s also huge that Djanel is trusting her wing spikers,” said Sabete in Filipino.
Aiza Maizo-Pontillas was also instrumental for the Angels with 13 points and 12 receptions. Cheng had 22 excellent sets as KC Gadones and Marian Buitre added 10 points each.
Petro Gazz will face Akari on Saturday before wrapping up its elimination round stint against PLDT on December 5, needing to win both games.
“The pressure is always there so we just have to be mindful of that. We have to acknowledge it and then we have to work around with that pressure. Every day, we keep on training and working hard and we will continue to show our capabilities,” said Sto. Tomas.
Farm Fresh lost its eighth out of nine matches with Tubu showing the way anew with 20 points. Zam Nolasco and Rizza Cruz had 11 points each, while Santiago and Bertolano added seven points apiece.