Sport

Angels gear up for Alyssa Valdez, Cool Smashers in grudge rematch

Angels gear up for Alyssa Valdez, Cool Smashers in grudge rematch

Games Saturday

2 p.m. – Motolite vs BaliPure

4 p.m. – PetroGazz vs Creamline

MANILA, Philippines – The PetroGazz Angels know fully well the challenge they would be facing when they meet the Creamline Cool Smashers for the second time in the Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference Saturday.

They bracing for not only for Creamline’s ever-improving imports Kuttika Kaewpin and Ale Blanco and the fired-up local crew, but also for a healthy Alyssa Valdez.

The multi-titled former Ateneo hotshot suffered an ankle injury in the second set of their opening game duel last May 26, forcing her to sit out the third frame and enabling the Angels to fashion out a 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 victory, which PetroGazz used as the springboard to pile up six more victories and nail the first semifinal berth in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

But Creamline bounced back from that defeat in remarkable fashion, sweeping their next six matches with Valdez back in harness, and Kaewpin and Blanco and the rest of the locals complementing well with each other as the defending champions joined the Angels in the Final Four of the tournament sponsored by Mikasa, Asics and KFC.

That should make Saturday’s 4 p.m. faceoff of the league’s top teams worth watching. Never mind if both teams have secured their spots in the crossover semis. Momentum and building confidence are foremost. Pride is also a big motivation.

What made PetroGazz’s surge impressive was the Angels won their first five matches without dropping a set. They settled for a 3-1 romp over the BanKo-Perlas Spikers last June 12 but the Angels swept the lowly BaliPure Water Defenders for the second straight time.

But with Valdez slowly but surely regaining her top form and Kuttika and Blanco raising the level of their games by the day, the Angels will need to draw more firepower from Cuban reinforcement Wilma Salas and American Janisa Johnson and locals Jeanette Panaga, Cherry Nuñag, Maricar Baloaloa, Paneng Mercado, Jonah Sabete and playmaker Relea Saet to step up their respective games.

Both teams primed up for the match with straight-set romps with PetroGazz thumping BaliPure and Creamline foiling Motolite while spoiling the return of local ace Myla Pablo.

Despite the loss, the Power Builders shoot for the No. 4 spot as they take on the winless Water Defenders at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, the league holds its third out-of-town sortie in the conference in Biñan City in Laguna with BanKo-Perlas and Motolite clashing in a crucial match at 2 p.m. and PetroGazz seeking a repeat over third-running PacificTown Army at 4 p.m.