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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Cool Smashers, Crossovers duel; Flying Titans vs. HD Spikers

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FORGET about the numbers, it’s all about the confidence and momentum gained from remarkable streaks in the eliminations.

Creamline, coming off a remarkable 11-game sweep, faces Chery Tiggo at 4 p.m. while Choco Mucho, with a stirring 10-game run, squares off with Cignal at 6 p.m. in a pair of best-of-three series kicking off the semifinal round of the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig Thursday.

Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses highlights the goal to exceed their performance in the elims while focusing on hard work.

“Yung goal is mas mataas pa sa eliminations. But we need to work hard,” said Meneses, who expects Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao to crank up their respective games as they try to extend their unbeaten run.

He also rested skipper Alyssa Valdez against the Galeries Highrisers last Tuesday for optimal performance in the Final Four.

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“Priority is for Aly (Valdez) to rest for the semis para mas maging maganda ang performance nya,” said Meneses, whose wards dismantled the Crossovers in four last Nov. 26.

While Creamline is on a streak, Chery Tiggo is on a skid, having dropped its last two matches, including a shutout loss to the soaring Choco Mucho in Iloilo last weekend.

But deputy coach Kungfu Reyes is motivated to bring out the best from the team as they aim for another shot at the finals in the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Bola.TV, Beyond Active Wear, ASICS and Mikasa.

Rookie Eya Laure has been consistent with her double-digit outputs but the other players need to step up, including Ces Robles, Mylene Paat, EJ Laure, Cza Carandang, Pauline Gaston and Shaya Adorador.

The Crossovers won eight of their first nine games in the elims but lost steam at the finish and wound up No. 4, sealing a duel with the Cool Smashers, whom they, however, beat to emerge as the league’s first pro champions in the Open Conference in bubble setup in Ilocos Norte two years ago.

Like Creamline, Choco Mucho toppled Cignal in their elims face-off, scoring a three-set romp last Oct. 26 that helped anchor their amazing 10-game run following a four-set defeat to the defending champions on opening day.

Choco Mucho coach Dante Alinsunurin has underlined the importance of controlling the game through solid serves and raising confidence, saying: “Yung sistema (ng team) ay yung kailangan namin ng hard serves para ma-control ang laro.”

“Mataas ang kumpiyansa namin pero ang goal is to i-angat pa ang confidence level sa semis,” added Alinsunurin.

The Flying Titans have bucked the sidelining of injured wing player Des Cheng as Sisi Rondina continued to provide not just the firepower but also the leadership, inspiring the likes of Kat Tolentino, Isa Molde, Bea de Leon, Maddie Madayag, Caitlin Viray, Aduke Ogunsanya and setter Deanna Wong.

But the HD Spikers are determined not just to get back at the Flying Titans but also to boost their finals drive after missing the semis in the first All-Filipino Conference ruled by the Cool Smashers last March.

Against Choco Mucho, Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos puts weight on the team’s eagerness to work hard while acknowledging the need for consistency.

“We’re happy to be in the semis pero kailangan talaga na maging eager kami na trabahuhin lahat,” said delos Santos.

“Alam ko kung ano ang kayang gawin ng team. Maging consistent lang, especially sa Game One. Mataas ang respect namin sa Choco Mucho but I think hindi masyadong pag-uusapan ang skills, siguro yung eagerness na gustuhin mong manalo,” added delos Santos, whose seasoned roster includes Ces Molina, Jove Gonzaga, Roselyn Doria, Riri Meneses and playmaker Gel Cayuna along with the young Vanie Gandler.

Games can be streamed live on PVL.ph and Pilipinas Live and telecast on OneSports and OneSportsPlus.

Games Thursday
(Semifinal best-of-three)
4 p.m. – Creamline vs Chery Tiggo
6 p.m. – Choco Mucho vs Cignal

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