MANILA, Philippines – The Creamline Cool Smashers stayed composed in the country’s biggest volleyball stage, and downed their rival Petro Gazz Angels after a nail-biting fourth set, 25-16, 23-25, 25-12, 32-30, in Game 1 of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference finals on Wednesday, April 6.
With the win in front of more than 14,000 raucous fans at the Mall of Asia Arena, the battle-tested Cool Smashers moved on the cusp of their third Open title in four seasons, and can now close things out on Friday, April 8, at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Multi-time Best Setter Jia Morado-De Guzman flexed her veteran savvy when Creamline needed her most, and finished with 39 excellent sets and 15 excellent digs, while libero Kyla Atienza shored them up with 25 excellent digs and 15 excellent receptions.
Alyssa Valdez and Tots Carlos, meanwhile, led the way in scoring with 26 points apiece, while Jema Galanza added 17 markers.
After getting completely dominated in the third set which included a Myla Pablo leg injury, the Angels found new life in the form of Jonah Sabete, who forced set point, 24-22.
However, what followed next was a long back-and-forth rally highlighted by timely MJ Phillips quick hits, and Valdez match points.
After Valdez herself reset the game after an attack error, Carlos forced one more match point with a down the line hit before Seth Rodriguez finally ended the game with a looping attack that sailed out.
“Both teams had a really good game in the fourth set. Their players delivered, and we really just got the breaks of the game,” said assistant coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino. “We’re happy because we got Game 1, so it’s back to training for us and fix some lapses.”
Phillips paced the loss with a game-high 6 blocks for 13 points overall, while Grethcel Soltones and Sabete added 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Choco Mucho Flying Titans took Game 1 of a possible best-of-three series for the bronze medal in four sets against the Cignal HD Spikers, 25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22.
Kat Tolentino once again led the way in scoring with 23 points off 19 attacks, 3 blocks, and an ace, while Bea de Leon tallied a game-high 4 rejections for 11 markers overall.
Deanna Wong also flexed her fine form in playmaking and defense with game-highs of 30 excellent sets and 26 excellent digs.
Roselyn Doria paced the loss with 12 points, while Klarisa Abriam and the hobbled Rachel Anne Daquis scored 10 apiece in just three sets off the bench.
If ever Cignal ties it up at one game apiece, but Creamline sweeps Petro Gazz in the finals, the league will stop the third-place series, and instead just use a points system to determine the podium finisher. – Rappler.com