Creamline flashed its superior firepower again and reduced PLDT’s erstwhile impressive run into a virtual footnote, coming away with an emphatic 25-20, 25-21, 25-17 victory to clinch the first semifinal berth in the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference before a huge Tuesday crowd at the Philsports Arena in Pasig yesterday.
Over 7,600 fans braced for a fierce duel between the defending champions, who rebounded from a stinging five-set setback to the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers with victories over the Chery Tiggo Crossovers and the Army Lady Troopers, and the High Speed Hitters coming off a four-game roll after an opening game stumble.
But some left the venue disappointed as the Cool Smashers stamped their class early, dominated the High Speed Hitters with their vaunted attacking skills, then sustained their charge all the way to the finish to complete the one-hour, 29-minute romp that formalized their entry to the post-elims play of the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses, however, opted to downplay their dominance, stressing the semis will be a whole new phase.
“Siyempre, happy kami na nakapasok kami muli sa semifinals. Ma-improve pa sana ‘yung mga next game namin kasi back-to-zero ulit sa semis,” said Meneses.
Creamline thus hiked its record to 6-1 (win-loss) while throwing the battle for the next three semis spots into a wide-open race among PLDT, which dropped to 4-2 in a tie with F2 Logistics and Petro Gazz, Chery Tiggo (3-3) and even Choco Mucho (2-3).
The Cargo Movers and the Flying Titans, meanwhile, are playing at presstime, the result of which will weigh on their respective Final Four drive.
Tots Carlos blasted in 15 kills on her way to a top-scoring 18-point output, Ced Domingo continued to flourish in the middle and finished with a 17 points while clinching the game’s top honors, and Jema Galanza backed them up with 11 markers.
“Happy kami kasi nag-paid off ‘yung tinraining naming,” said Domingo. “But I believe hindi pa kami nagpi-peak at pagdating sa semis, may iaangat pa kami.”
So overpowering was the Cool Smashers’ offense that Michele Gumabao and Pangs Panaga added seven and six points, respectively. They led, 14-7, in the third and after the High Speed Hitters racked up four straight points and moved within three, the Cool Smashers countered with an 11-6 attack to wrap it all up.
Creamline finished with 48 attack points, 17 more than their rivals as Michelle Morente led PLDT with 12 points and Mika Reyes wound up with 11. Dell Palomata and Jovie Prado each fired seven points but Meanne Mendrez, who normed 13.7 points in their victories over Akari, Petro Gazz, Army and Chery Tiggo, struggled for three points.