THE Petro Gazz Angels nabbed their first win in the Philippine Champions League with a 25-10, 25-13, 25-10 win over the Baguio City Highlanders on Nov. 20 at the Aquamarine Recreational Center in Lipa City.
Jerrili Malabanan, playing out of Far Eastern University, got the ball rolling in the Philippine National Volleyball Federation’s (PNVF) first major offering amid the still prevailing Covid-19 pandemic off a well-orchestrated set from Chie Saet.
The historic first point may have played out as one of those pre-pandemic days in the office for the Angels’ 5-foot-8 outside spiker, but it would be etched in stone for the PNVF which set up the bubble tournament—the first major multi-day national event by any national sports association.
“We serve volleyball and with this Champions League, we serve sports,” PNVF president Ramon “Tats” Suzara said.
The Angels’ straight-set victory gave the Lady Highlanders valuable lessons. Baguio City skipper Cherry Atuban was grateful for the opportunity to play in the Champions League.
“Against Petro Gazz, we had to adjust playing together with the weather conditions,” said Atuban, who together with her sister Ann have club play experience in 2016 in the defunct V-League. “We enjoyed this game.“
Highlanders coach Yul Benosa admitted that his Lady Highlanders were overwhelmed as they tried to overcome jitters from playing on a high level.
“They were amazed with the tournament. This is the first time they competed at this level,” Benosa said. “Players were starstruck. They tried their best not to be intimidated by meeting their idols.”
Coach Arnold Laniog reminded his Angels not to be complacent against their foes from the country’s summer capital in the inaugurals of the tournament.
“I told my players they could choose to remain starstruck or actually compete with their idols,” Laniog said.
Petro Gazz made it look simple with Ces Molina scoring 12 points, three on service aces. Grethcel Soltones nailed half of her eight points from the service zone, while Malabanan tossed in seven points, including two aces, for the Angels.