PETRO Gazz stunned the defending champion Creamline, 25-22, 26-24, 25-22, on Sunday to jumpstart its Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference campaign on a high note at the Arena in San Juan City.
Cuban import Wilma Salas, who just arrived in the country Saturday night still experiencing jetlag and lack of sleep, made a sensational debut for the Angels as she dropped 20 points to sweep the Cool Smashers that lost superstar Alyssa Valdez mid-second set due to swollen left ankle.
Salas had her first practice with the team at 12 noon earlier but showed her scoring prowess hours after nailing 18 kills and two blocks, while American import Janisa Johnson also shone with 16 points including six digs and nailed the clutch hits in the third set.
“Sabi nga namin kanina nu’ng nag-train kami ng morning we’ll try to adjust dun kay Salas kung maka-connect siya agad, better,” Petro Gazz head coach Arnold Laniog said. “Umpisa pa lang ng first set nakita namin na parang matagal na siyang kasama ng mga players eh.“
The locals were also instrumental for the Angels despite giving up 33 errors with middle blockers Jeanette Panaga and Cherry Nunag chipping in nine and eight points, respectively. Setter Djanel Cheng dished out 15 excellent sets and seven digs, while libero Cienne Cruz had 13 digs and eight receptions.
The Cool Smashers lost their tempo when Valdez suffered the left ankle injury as the five-time league MVP was blocked by Petro Gazz’s net defense and tried to save the ball but she slipped on the floor when the set was tied to 16-apiece.
Valdez was carried off the court but didn’t proceed at the locker room staying at the back of the bench, where her ankle was treated but failed to return.
Creamline threatened for a comeback in the third set erasing Petro Gazz’s 22-18 lead trimming it to just one, 23-22, as Johnson’s attack went long but Panaga stopped the bleeding and put the Angels at match point before the American import nailed the match-winning hit.
No Cool Smasher scored in double figures as imports Aleoscar Blanco and Kuttika Kaewpin had nine and eight points, respectively. Valdez had five markers before getting injured.