MANILA, Philippines – Creamline stretched its perfect run to five to claim a semifinal berth in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference.
The Cool Smashers doubled up on their attack in the third frame then outwitted Chery Tiggo in a thriller of an extended duel in the fourth for a 25-23, 20-25, 25-12, 32-30 victory on Saturday night, November 5, before a packed crowd at the Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna.
Turkish hitter Yeliz Basa finished with 22 points while Jema Galanza and Alyssa Valdez scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, to power Creamline.
Ced Domingo and Pangs Panaga also added 10 points apiece for the Grand Slam-seeking Cool Smashers.
Chery Tiggo slipped to 5-1, losing the momentum of its stirring run that clinched the Crossovers the first Final Four seat as early as last week.
Jia de Guzman brilliantly set up Domingo for back-to-back quick attacks when their regular set plays for the wingers couldn’t produce the desired result, ending a nerve-wracking exchange of turns at set and match point
As fortunes shifted from one side to the other in the stretch, De Guzman went for Domingo, who responded the way she did in their past campaigns, delivering the last 2 points on those quick hits that finished off the 2019 champions, who survived the last match point on a Mylene Paat dropshot.
Valdez also stepped up in the clutch, along with Basa and Panaga, but the troika failed to wrap it up as the Crossovers countered with their own assaults behind EJ Laure, Montenegrin Jelena Cvijovic, Cza Carandang, and Paat.
The Open Conference and Invitationals champions pulled through in a clash of power, smarts and breaks in the first set but yielded to the Crossovers’ strong fightback in the next with Dindin Manabat and Paat combining in the stretch to reduce the highly anticipated duel to a best-of-three sets.
Manabat came through with a couple of block points and two hits while Paat closed it out with a pair of power blasts but the Crossovers came out virtually flat in the third, failing to match the Cool Smashers’ energy and superb passing, leading to a number of successful assaults.
Stymied by the Crossovers’ late surge in the second frame, the Cool Smashers came out smoking in the pivotal set, hammering out kills almost at will to finish with 16 attacks, twice over than what the former could offer.
Creamline also controlled majority of the fourth but wavered in the stretch, enabling the Crossovers to fight back that set the stage for the thrilling finish.
Earlier, Petro Gazz got the better of PLDT in a confusion-marred fourth set, pulling off a 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25 victory to firm up its hold of the third spot at 3-1 in a mad scramble to the semis.
The Angels survived two set points in the fourth and kept their composure after a long delay caused by a dispute over a play which PLDT coach George Pascua challenged that was however ruled unsuccessful.
The 2019 champions gained a crucial point from the unsuccessful challenge to force a tie at 24.
Import Lindsey Vander Weide then banged in a kill at resumption and the Angels snatched the win as MJ Phillips redeemed herself from an errant push in the previous play with a block off PLDT reinforcement Elena Samoilenko, who blew it all for the High Speed Hitters with a backrow attack mishit.
Vander Weide finished with 24 points spiked by 21 attacks, 2 blocks and an ace, while also tallying 8 excellent digs and 6 receptions.
Phillips backed her up with 13 points while Myla Pablo and Jonah Sabete added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Samoilenko put up a game-high 29 points for PLDT. – Rappler.com