The Creamline Cool Smashers survived a strong two-set comeback by the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, and took Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference Finals in a five-set thriller, 25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 19-25, 15-7, on Wednesday, August 11.
After taking advantage of a rare one-day rest before the finals, the in-shape defending champions can now close out the best-of-three series in Game 2 on Thursday, August 12, the Crossovers’ sixth straight game day.
As she has proved all conference long, superstar spiker Alyssa Valdez again came through in the clutch and finished with 21 points, all off attacks, for Player of the Game honors.
That clutch gene again showed deep in the fifth and final set when Rachel Austero helped Chery Tiggo get within five, 6-11, after giving up a crucial 6-1 start to Creamline.
Following a costly service error by Jasmine Nabor, Valdez closed the game out with two powerful hits sandwiching a Jia Morado ace for the 15-7 finish.
“We’re just really thankful that everything worked for us during the fifth set. Of course, we really can’t count out Chery Tiggo, and we all know that,” Valdez said after the game.
“But we’re just really blessed that all of us are all-in. Our mindset is to give our all during the fifth set, and we saw the results.”
Although Valdez provided the late-game scoring punch, it was newcomer Tots Carlos who again attacked all game long with 26 points off 22 spikes, her fourth straight game scoring at least 20 markers.
Jema Galanza continued her strong play with a triple-double of 17 points, 18 excellent digs, and 13 excellent receptions, while star setter Jia Morado recorded 41 excellent sets, and 7 markers with 4 aces.
The Santiago sisters once again led the losing effort and sparked the two-set comeback with 25 points for Jaja, and 19 markers for Dindin.
However, the Crossovers ultimately lacked a third scoring option down the stretch as Shaya Adorador was already the third-highest team scorer with 9 points, while veteran Mylene Paat was held to just 2 markers in a full five-set grind.
Petro Gazz draws first blood in third-place series, Choco Mucho loses Madayag
In the best-of-three series for third place, the Petro Gazz Angels downed the weary Choco Mucho Flying Titans in four sets, 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-20, to take a 1-0 lead.
The rested Angels now have a chance to mercifully end the series in Game 2 on Thursday, August 12, 2 pm, the Titans’ seventh straight game day.
After a three-point disappearing act in the Game 2 semifinals decider against Creamline, Myla Pablo bounced back in a huge way with a 26-point eruption off 25 attacks, and an ace.
Grethcel Soltones backstopped “Bagyong Pablo” with a triple-double line of 13 markers, 19 excellent digs, and 16 excellent receptions, while star blocker Ria Meneses chipped in 10 points with a game-high 5 rejections.
Ponggay Gaston led the losing cause with 18 points off 17 attacks, while Kat Tolentino added 10 markers on 9 spikes.
Maddie Madayag mustered 6 points in the loss, but ultimately bore the ill effects of the brutal schedule as she suffered a non-contact left leg injury after going for a routine block midway through the fourth set.
She has since exited the Bacarra, Ilocos Norte bubble, and was reportedly taken to a medical facility in Batac for further tests. Her return for the rest of the series is now up in the air. – Rappler.com