Army Black Mamba and Choco Mucho dispute third place today (Tuesday) while PLDT seeks to secure a share of it against winless Petro Gazz as action heats up into the second week of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Troopers and the Flying Titans are coming off contrasting results last Thursday with the former repelling the Angels in four following a four-set setback to Cignal last week and the latter dropping a tough five-set defeat, also to the league-leading HD Spikers.
That makes the 2:30 p.m. duel between an Army side backstopped by a slew of seasoned campaigners and a Choco Mucho crew bursting with young, tall and talented players a match to watch.
Jovelyn Gonzaga hopes to sustain an explosive 23-hit game the last time out, together with Michelle Morente, who banged 13 points with playmaker Ivy Perez likewise going on an attack mode with 10 hits while producing 21 excellent sets against the now embattled Angels.
But they will need to draw added firepower from the rest, including Mary Ann Esguerra, Honey Royse Tubino and Jeanette Villareal and veterans MJ Balse-Pabayo and Nene Bautista as they mix it up with the Flying Titans raring to redeem themselves from a meltdown against the HD Spikers.
The weekend break should’ve given coach Oliver Almadro and his Choco Mucho squad, made up of Kat Tolentino, Bea de Leon, Isa Molde, Aduke Ogunsanya, Des Cheng, Cherry Nunag, Ponggay Gaston and setter Deanna Wong, the time to reflect on their campaign and re-focus on the task at hand after blowing past Chery Tiggo in the opener and then blowing a 2-0 set lead and yielding the match to Cignal.
With a level playing field, every game counts with the top four after the single round robin elims among seven teams advancing to the next phase where squads from Japan and Taiwan will spice up the title chase in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
That also makes the 5:30 p.m. clash between PLDT and Petro Gazz crucial, particularly for the Angels, who are hard-pressed to check a two-game skid and revive their bid following a runner-up finish to the Creamline Cool Smashers in the Open Conference last April.
The High Speed Hitters showed a lot of promise after sweeping the Crossovers but couldn’t keep pace with the Cool Smashers’ vaunted power game and yielded a four-set loss last Saturday.
But middle hitter/blocker Mika Reyes hopes to bounce back from a dismal four-point output against Creamline following a 15-point explosion against the Crossovers with Chin-Chin Basas, Julianne Samonte, Dell Palomata and Joy Soyud likewise vowing to rebound in an attempt to put PLDT back in the hunt.
But with their back against the wall, the Angels appear to have to no choice but to come out smoking with coach Arnold Laniog expecting to draw no less than the best from his starters, led by Myla Pablo, MJ Phillips, Jonah Sabete, Nicole Tiamzon, Aiza Pontillas and Seth Rodriguez.
Games are aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD). Both channels are also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.
Matches can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website pvl.ph.