Creamline came through in a duel of spurts in the opening frame, dominated the next then rallied to snatch the third and complete a straight-set 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 victory over Petro Gazz at the start of the semifinal round of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena on Thursday.
By pulling it off in varying fashions, the Cool Smashers’ further underscored their superb all-round game anchored on their explosive hitting, burying the Angels with 53 attack points with import Yeliz Basa and Jema Galanza combining for 28 before winding up with 17 and 14 points, respectively.
Creamline likewise put up a solid reception all game, yielding not even one ace while scoring six of their own. And though the Angels lived up to their billing as the league’s top blocking team, 9-5, and barely edged the Cool Smashers in overall reception, 35-33, the grand slam-seeking crowd favorites lorded it over the rest in stats.
They finished with 47 excellent digs against their rivals’ 43 and Jia de Guzman put up another sterling 19-excellent set performance, seven more than her counterpart Djanel Cheng.
“Wala naman problema kahit ilang set, basta manalo,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses, whose wards stared at defeat in the third after trailing 14-18 on a Lindsey Vander Weide’s off-the-block hit.
But the Angels surprisingly settled for drop shots, enabling the Cool Smashers to counter with Tots Carlos and Galanza scoring on back-to-back hits with another pair of Basa and Galanza blasts capping a 4-0 run that forced a tie.
Still, Petro Gazz refused to crack and fought back to surge ahead again at 23-22 on a Vander Weide power tip. But a costly MJ Phillips net miscue stymied their charge while virtually helping set the stage for the Cool Smashers’ decisive closing 3-0 run.
And Ced Domingo stepped up again the way she did in their past matches, scoring on a quick hit off a broken play then completing another brilliant de Guzman feed that bounced off Shiela Pineda’s arms and which Vander Weide had failed to save.
“Everyone really went back to the basics when we were trailing. The team stayed composed,” said de Guzman. “Until they score 25, we knew we can still chase them.”
“Malaking bagay sa amin ito (win), lalo na three sets kasi siempre, yung mga points napakahalaga kung mag-tie before the finals. So just like sa elims, maraming nagkatalo sa points. So it’s an advantage for us to score 3 points here,” said Meneses.
“Hopefully, next game, maglaro pa kami ng maganda at ma-improve ung team kasi malayo pa, dalawang games pa,” he added.
The Cool Smashers take on the Cignal HD Spikers on Sunday before facing the Chery Tiggo Crossovers on Tuesday.
Vander Weide finished with 16 points while Phillips and Aiza Pontillas added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Angels, who beat the Cool Smashers in the finals of this conference last 2019 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
But coach Rald Ricafort only drew three points each from Myla Pablo and Remy Palma as the Angels finished with just 37 attack points.
The Angels started out strong and seized a 10-7 lead but the Cool Smashers struck back to grab the lead at 16-15 before racking up five straight points to pull away by six. Petro Gazz, however, countered with its own five-point binge to threaten within one but Creamline held sway behind Alyssa Valdez’s power hits to pound out the four-point win in the first set.