MANILA, Philippines – The Creamline Cool Smashers cruised to the first seed of the 2023 PVL All-Filipino Conference semifinals after downing the also-ran Akari Chargers, 25-17, 25-22, 27-29, 25-8, at the massively-packed University of San Agustin Gym in Iloilo on Tuesday, March 14.
Runaway Best Setter candidate Jia de Guzman led the way with 22 excellent sets and 8 points off 5 aces, while Michele Gumabao topscored with 19 points off 17 attacks in Creamline’s ascent to a 7-1 record.
Jema Galanza added 17 points off 14 attacks, 2 blocks, and 1 ace, while two-time MVP Tots Carlos scattered 16 points, 16 excellent receptions, and 15 excellent digs in the victory.
“We have a lot to improve on going to the semifinals. Consistency, that’s very important. Every point, we need to focus on every point,” said Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino.
“As you can see, we didn’t play well in the third set, but we’re happy no one else got injured, and we’re healthy going to the semis. We’ll prepare now for that.”
Eli Soyud paced the loss that sent Akari down a 2-8 slate with 17 points off 12 attacks, 3 aces, and 2 blocks, while rookie Trisha Genesis chipped in 9 points.
Meanwhile, the Petro Gazz Angels locked up the second seed in the first game of the double-header with a 25-21, 28-26, 25-21 sweeping ouster of the Chery Tiggo Crossovers for a 6-2 record.
Thanks to their multiple three- and four-set wins, the Angels cruised to a 3-point standings lead over F2, 19-16, despite owning identical records. PLDT, which also clinched a semis spot while sitting idle at 5-2 with one game left, may only rise as high as 18 points to clinch the third seed.
The resurgent Grethcel Soltones led Petro Gazz’s last elimination round win with 14 points off 10 attacks, 3 aces, and 1 block, while Ilongga star Aiza Maizo-Pontillas showed off with 13 points, all off attacks.
Cza Carandang paced the conference-ending loss with 16 points off 15 attacks. League-leading scorer Mylene Paat added 15 points as Chery Tiggo settled for a 4-4 record in fifth place after a scintillating 3-0 start to the conference.
Creamline and Petro Gazz, locked in first and second place, respectively, now await PLDT’s fate on Thursday, March 16, 4 pm, against the also-ran Choco Mucho Flying Titans to see which teams will take the third and fourth seeds.
The best-of-three semifinals begin on Saturday, March 18, 4 pm, at the PhilSports Arena. – Rappler.com
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