IT was worth the comeback for libero Cienne Cruz after helping Petro Gazz in its first season in the Premier Volleyball League.
The former De La Salle Lady Spiker was out of the volleyball scene for two years since playing in UAAP Season 77 and with F2 Logistics in the Philippine Superliga 2016 as she went to United States later that year and focused on academics in 2017.
Making her return this year with a new team in the PVL, Cruz turned heads with her limb-sacrificing saves and digs as the backbone of the Angels’ floor defense.
Cienne, the twin sister of Petro Gazz team manager Camille Cruz and superstar Cha Cruz-Behag, got a nod as the Best Libero of the PVL Season 2 Open Conference, where the Angels finished at fourth place.
“It’s very overwhelming sa akin na makareceive ng individual award to be honest,” said Cruz. “Coming to our season sobrang hindi ko naisip na magkakaaward ako kasi ang mentality ko talaga is to contribute whatever I can especially na kakabalik ko lang from a long break of volleyball so sobrang nakakaoverwhelm.”
The 24-year-old libero did not only take care of the team’s floor defense but she and fellow veterans Stephanie Mercado and Chie Saetalso guided their young teammates.
“I’m one of the seniors kasi siguro puro bata pa rin yung mga teammates namin along with ate Steph and ate Chie,” she said. “I guess isa ako sa mga ate ng team pero as a libero of course sinusupport ko rin yung mga co-libero ko si ate Rica (Enclona).”
Petro Gazz missed the Final Four in its debut in the Reinforced Conference but with more time to train and prepare, the vastly improved Angels had a breakthrough in the Open Conference when they entered the semifinals for the first time before bowing to champion Creamline and losing the bronze series to BanKo.
“Sobrang nahirapan din yung team namin for this season, nagkaroon kami ng ups and downs, nawalan kami ng players due to NCAA prep and nagkaroon din kami ng mga minor injuries,” Cruz said.
Cruz believes that the best is yet to come after a convincing season debut for Petro Gazz as the Angels seek to continue to peak in PVL Season 3 in May next year with new recruit Jeanette Panaga on board while eyeing other locals and two imports to sign.
“Actually right now we’re confident naman sa potential ng team especially with our new addition Panaga and naririnig ko rin yung mga nirerecruit ng team namin,” Cruz said. “I guess marami pa talagang mararating yung team namin of course yung last season namin sobrang naging learning experience for everyone nagkaroon talaga kami ng chemistry as a team.”