Wilma Salas and the Petro Gazz Angels dethroned the Creamline Cool Smashers in the PVL Reinforced Conference after winning Game Three of the finals in four sets.
Philstar.com/Luisa Morales
Who dares wins: The Petro Gazz Angels
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - July 15, 2019 - 1:13pm

MANILA, Philippines – The British Special Air Service, that elite commando team tasked with taking on tough and impossible military missions, has a creed: “Who dares wins.”

The same can be applied and appropriated by the newly crowned Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference champions, Petro Gazz Angels.

A few days before the start of the season, team management looked at the schedule and the Angels were tasked to take on another team in the season opener. They asked, “Can we instead play the Creamline Coolsmashers?”

If the team was to contend, they wanted to immediately test themselves against the best — the Coolsmashers, who were the defending champions.

Petro Gazz knew they handed landed two gems of imports in Cuban national teamer Wilma Salas and the high-leaping and scoring Janisa Johnson, who local fans first saw with the BaliPure Water Defenders from the previous season.

The angels threw down the gauntlet and they ambushed the Coolsmashers with a three-set win (25-22, 26-24, 25-22) behind Salas’ 20 points and Johnson’s 16. Also playing stellar roles in that opening day win were Jeanette Panaga (nine points) and Cherry Nunag (eight points).

When the Angels closed out the finals series a month and 20 days after that scintillating opening day win, all four Angels, including newly activated super sub Jonah Sabete, masterfully finished off Creamline in a four-set thriller (25-15, 30-28, 25-23, 25-019).

Five days earlier, things looked a bit bleak as Creamline took Game One when they not only ratcheted up the intensity but they held Salas in check. 

The day after that loss, team management sat down with Petro Gazz head coach Arnolfd Laniog to see how they could turn the series around. They talked about raising the level of intensity to not only match Creamline but to even surpass. 

“We will just make a few adjustments because I think we are all right,” said Laniog.

And he wasn’t grasping for straws.

They didn’t play so bad in Game One despite the result. Outside their Big Three of Salas-Johnson-Panaga, the locals outscored their Coolsmashers counterparts, 16-13. More of the locals were getting into the act, something they worked on following the second round loss to Creamline. They were aggressive in Game One, it was just that they committed a whopping 31 errors to Creamline’s 16.

In Game Two, Petro Gazz reversed the tide by blanking Creamline’s imports Kuttika Kaewpin and Aleoscar Blanco leaving only Alyssa Valdez to do the heavy lifting on both offense and defense.

With less than 24 hours after the series-turning Game Two, the momentum rode with Petro Gazz while Creamline had less than 24 hours to shake off the debilitating effects of Game Two.

The Angles continued to roll in set one of game three and only lost set two by two points. They put Creamline on the defensive with their booming serves and tough net and floor defense as led by libero Cienne Cruz. With Kaewpin’s points scattered and Blanco a non-factor, Valdez was left to carry the load. Against a team on fire, flush with confidence and smelling blood, even the Phenom’s prowess wasn’t enough to deny Petro Gazz.

And for championship point, a little misdirection by Laniog forced Creamline to watch Salas but it was Johnson who finished them off. 

In only the second year of the Angles, they have bagged themselves a trophy and con be considered as a top team now. And they do not look to rest there as they are constantly looking for ways to shore up their team. True to their form, they are staying aggressive.

After all, they dared to win.

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