Games on Thursday
Sta. Rosa, Laguna
2:30 p.m. – Petro Gazz vs Chery Tiggo
5:30 p.m. – Cignal vs Creamline
The Premier Volleyball League holds its only out-of-town game in the Invitational Conference in Sta. Rosa, Laguna Thursday featuring a pair of crucial matches headlined by a clash of the league’s only unbeaten teams.
The hold of the solo lead isn’t only what is at stake in the 5:30 p.m. encounter at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex but also at least a tie for the last semifinal berth with Cignal HD gunning for a fourth straight victory and Creamline seeking to extend its own run to three.
Meanwhile, Petro Gazz and Chery Tiggo knock each other out in the 2:30 p.m. opener with the Angels reeling from a five-set setback to the High Speed Hitters last Tuesday and the Crossovers dropping their first three matches in straight-set fashions.
The HD Spikers and the Cool Smashers are coming into the match full of energy and enthusiasm, having taken a break in last Tuesday’s playdate with one expected to come up with new ploys or combinations to startle the other.
Whatever, a battle royale looms between two of the league’s highly regarded teams that didn’t cross paths in the recent Open Conference.
They were actually headed for title collision after dominating their respective brackets from the elims to the quarters. But while the HD Spikers lost steam and yielded to the Petro Gazz Angels, the Cool Smashers went on to foil the Choco Mucho Flying Titans and down the Angels in the finals.
Cignal is again off to a fine start in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision. But this time, coach Shaq delos Santos has guaranteed a tougher, stronger crew ready to do battle against the best of the best.
Still, he has opted to downplay their chances, much more their combination of streak that included a four-set win over Army, a five-set escape over Choco Mucho and a virtual stroll over Chery Tiggo.
“I don’t consider our team as one of the strongest. But we have to stay focused on every game. Despite our victories, there’s still a lot to improve in our system, it’s a process,” said delo Santos, who boasts of such talents in Ces Molina, Rachel Anne Daquis, Roselyn Doria, Ria Meneses, Claudine Troncoso, Angeli Araneta, Klarisa Abriam, Jerrili Malabanan, Arielle Estranero and Gel Cayuna.
Whatever, counterpart Sherwin Meneses has Cignal on his mind even before the start of the conference, saying: “Cignal is one of the strongest teams in the conference that’s why we must prepare.”
“With an intact roster from the last conference, they already have a system,” added Meneses.
So do the Cool Smashers, who have been together for so long, netting them four championships in a remarkable four-year campaign, including in the Open Conference last April.
They have never tasted defeat since posting an eight-game sweep of the Open, their first in PVL’s pro era, with Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza. Alyssa Valdez, Risa Sato, Pangs Panaga, Celine Domingo, Kyle Negrito and playmaker Jia de Guzman eager to stretch that run further after holding off Petro Gaza in four and dominating PLDT in three last week.
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.