While it would rather prefer to get a crack at a second straight championship on its own merits, Creamline is pleased and relieved to have moved into the finals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference ahead of everybody else without going through the service line or hitting an attack.
For Kingwhale-Taiwan made the Open Conference champion’s drive to the championship round simpler after repulsing hard-luck PLDT in a five-set thriller last Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
With a 3-0 slate, the Cool Smashers could afford to drop their final match to the Taiwanese Friday back at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan and still clinch a spot in the finals even if Kingwhale would go on to sweep the five-team semis phase.
PLDT, which looked set to nail the first finals seat after sweeping its first two games in the semis, dropped its last two games in heart-breaking fashions—blowing a 2-0 set lead and yielding to the Cool Smashers, and squandering a 12-8 bulge in the fifth set and losing to the Taiwanese.
With a 2-2 card, the High Speed Hitters could hope for Kingwhale to drop its last two games to Creamline and Cignal (1-2) and force a three-way tie for second at 2-2. The team with the superior tiebreak score will face Creamline in a winner-take-all match.
PLDT closed out its campaign with 1.027 points ratio, Kingwhale has 1.076 with two games left, and Cignal has 0.909 with one more match.
Creamline tests Kingwhale’s mettle at 4 p.m. tomorrow as the league takes a two-day break with the final semis pairing pitting Cignal and Kingwhale on Saturday, also at 4 p.m. at the San Juan venue. The winner-take-all final is set Sunday at 5:30 p.m. after the 2:30 p.m. clash for third, back at the MOA Arena.
Whatever, the Cool Smashers are eager and ready to go for another championship.
“Whichever team we’d be facing in the finals, we’re excited,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses, who boasts of a crack squad led by the league’s leading scorer Tots Carlos, the durable Alyssa Valdez, heavy hitter Jema Galanza and ace playmaker Jia de Guzman, along with Celine Domingo, Michelle Gumabao, Pangs Panaga, Risa Sato and defenders Kyle Atienza, Ella de Jesus and Kyle Negrito.
“PLDT and Kingwhale have different systems. Though we beat PLDT in the semis, it was a struggle and I know they will be extra motivated if they get to the final,” said Meneses.
“We’ll be facing Kingwhale tomorrow and they are very exciting,” he added. “But it will all depend on our team what kind of game we’d play since it’s a winner-take-all final.”
At stake for Creamline isn’t only a second straight championship after sweeping Petro Gazz in the finals of the Open Conference but the right to represent the country in the upcoming AVC (Asian Volleyball Confederation) Championship for Women starting Aug. 21 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
But Meneses isn’t looking beyond the PVL Invitational but is focusing on the task at hand.
“We haven’t thought about that because the PVL isn’t over yet. We are taking things one game at a time,” said Meneses.