The Creamline Cool Smashers expended every ounce of power they had to escape their rival Petro Gazz Angels in a five-set Game 1 war, 24-26, 25-23, 16-25, 25-17, 16-14, to kick off the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference semifinals on Sunday, August 8.
Tots Carlos shored up the late-game offense as usual, and spiked her way to Player of the Game honors with 23 points off 22 attacks, and an ace.
After the nail-biting win, team captain Alyssa Valdez, who finished with a team-high 25 points off 22 attacks, had nothing but praise for the team’s newest star recruit.
“Tots is very, very aggressive not only in terms of attacking but also inside the court. She has a very nice attitude towards everyone, and brings energy inside and outside the court,” she said.
Jema Galanza backstopped Carlos in the latter-sets offensive eruption, and finished with 16 points and 21 excellent receptions off the bench.
Top setter Jia Morado tallied 37 excellent sets and 16 excellent digs, while Michele Gumabao added 13 markers in just three sets played.
Off contrasting blowouts in the third and fourth sets, both teams also traded runs to begin the final frame, as Petro Gazz used a 7-2 counterattack after Creamline’s 5-1 start to take an 8-7 lead.
The defending conference champions got momentary breathing room after a Carlos attack for the 12-10 lead, but they complicated things for themselves after three crucial unforced errors that brought the game at a 14-all deadlock.
The breaks of the game, however, fell Creamline’s way as Carlos and Galanza conspired for the needed two-point finishing kick to put away their rivals for good with the slimmest of margins.
Myla Pablo went down swinging with the Cool Smashers’ all-around attack salvo, and topscored with 26 points off 25 spikes. Ces Molina also had her imprint all over the stat sheet in the tough loss with a 17-point, 15-dig, 14-reception triple-double.
Both teams immediately return to action on Monday, August 9, as Creamline aims for a series sweep, and to clinch their fifth straight finals appearance. – Rappler.com