If there was one thing that drove Tots Carlos and Jema Galanza to add more fire on their performances during their unbeaten championship run in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League, it was still their heartbreaking runner-up finish last year.
It may have been almost a year since the Creamline Cool Smashers lost the 2021 Open Conference title at the hands of Jaja Santiago-led Chery Tiggo Crossovers, but it still haunted Carlos and Galanza heading into the 2022 season.
In 2021, Creamline looked in control of the Game 3 of the finals against Crossovers with a 2-0 set lead but Santiago propelled her team in a historic comeback to win the inaugural pro title of PVL in five sets.
Carlos made sure it would not happen again as she led her team’s offensive onslaught from the start of the conference up to the finals series against the Petro Gazz Angels, securing the Best Opposite Spiker award and the Most Valuable Player plum.
The Cool Smashers went on to sweep the Angels in the championship series to clinch the title after a 25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 25-16, win in Game 2 at the Ynares Center Antipolo Friday.
“Hugot ko pa rin talaga is yung last year's finals kasi medyo nagkulang kami. Sobrang grateful ako sa teammates ko, sa coaches namin, sa management kasi sobra pa rin yung tiwala na binibigay sa 'min. Yung suporta, hindi nawawala,” she said after the match.
Carlos is also cherishing her first championship with Creamline which was echoed by Galanza.
“Its my first championship eh kaya sobrang happy ako, sobrang driven ako this season talaga,” the former UP standout said.
“Wala pa rin ako masabi. Kanina pa ako nagdadasal. Totoo bang nangyari to kasi ang tagal eh. Yung last year kasi medyo hindi naging maganda yung season namin. Ngayon, worth it lahat nung pagod, yung iyak, sakripisyo namin sa bubble,” Galanza added.
While Carlos admitted that a possible loss in the second game crossed her mind, she made sure to counter it with solid performance on the court which was evident when they dropped the second set to Petro Gazz.
The Angels equalized the match at 1-1 after a 25-15 win in the second frame. It was a tight battle in the third but the Cool Smashers held on with Carlos ending the set off a combination play, 25-23.
They eventually cruised past the Petro Gazz in the fourth as Galanza teamed up with the finals MVP Alyssa Valdez for a scoring show.
“Naisip ko nga yan na baka matalo kami ng second pero lagi kong pangontra diyan is hindi ako papayag. Hindi kami papayag. Kahit medyo malayo yung scores ng Petro Gazz, yung laban talaga namin hindi mawawala kasi gustong-gusto talaga namin makuha ito,” Carlos shared.
Galanza also drew inspiration from her teammates coming into the season.
“Sobrang love na love ko sila. Everytime na maglalaro ako yung laro ko para sa kanila. Yun lang, wala na ko inisip this season. Gusto ko lang bumawi,” Galanza said.
This is the Cool Smashers the first title in PVL since the league turned professional in 2021 and fourth since the team's debut in 2017.