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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Cool Smashers repel Crossovers, edge closer to No. 1

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Games Thursday

2 p.m. –  Galeries vs Gerflor

4 p.m. – Creamline vs Akari

6 p.m. – F2 Logistics vs PLDT

Guaranteed of semifinal seats, Creamline and Chery Tiggo still slugged it out as if their Final Four hopes depended on it with the Cool Smashers winning the frenetic duel, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20, 25-16, to all but clinch the top seeding in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

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The Cool Smashers flashed resiliency following a late second set meltdown that resulted in them conceding a set to the Crossovers for the first time in their head-to-head encounters, unleashing a strong wind-up in the pivotal third set and then rallying in the fourth to essay the four-set triumph before a big roaring Tuesday crowd.

With nine straight victories, Creamline moved two wins away from locking in the coveted No. 1 spot heading to the semis.

The Cool Smashers will be facing a couple of ousted teams in the Akari Chargers tomorrow (Thursday) and the winless Gerflor Defenders on Dec. 5, offering an opportunity to further firm up their standing.

Chery Tiggo stayed at third with an 8-2 slate with the Crossovers closing out their elims campaign against fellow semifinalist and second-running Choco Mucho Flying Titans (9-1) in Iloilo on Saturday.

The No. 1 team tangles with the No. 4 and the Nos. 2 and 3 squads face of in a pair of best-of-three semis series with the winners clashing for the championship of the season-ending conference organized by Sports Vision, also a best-of-three affair.

From a 16-all count in the third, the Cool Smashers took the next three points, capping a big 7-1 binge. Learning from their previous second-set lapse, the defending champions held their ground with Tots Carlos and Bernadette Pons delivering the last two points to seal the five-point win and a 2-1 set lead.

Trailing, 6-9, in the fourth, the Cool Smashers countered with a 5-2 run to tie the count at 11 and after wresting a two-point lead on a Pangs Panaga quick attack, 13-11, the six-time league champions sprayed the Crossovers with a variety of hits from Carlos and Jema Galaza while likewise scoring on combo plays to pull away at 19-14.

Though a Pons’ attack error momentarily halted their charge, playmaker Kyle Negrito came through with a 1-2 put-away, sparking another 6-1 run that sealed the victory for the crowd favorites.

“Sobrang happy at naging maganda ang laro ng lahat – for the fans,” said Galanza, while acknowledging the cheers from their supporters, who came from all over.

Galanza went on to finish with 16 points, including 13 attack points and bag the Player of the Game honors right on her 27th birthday.

The former Adamson U standout emphasized the need for the team to reach peak form in time for the post-elims play, saying: “Palapit ng palamit ang semis, kaya kailangan ma-perfect namin ang mga galaw at mag-focus sa sistema.”

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