MANILA — The Creamline Cool Smashers dug deep in the end game to turn back a game Tacloban side in straight sets, thus gaining a quarterfinal spot in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference.
In front of a raucous crowd at the Batangas City Sports Coliseum on Sunday, the Cool Smashers claimed a tough 25-14, 27-25, 26-24 win to improve to 4-1 in the conference.
Coming off a weeklong break, the Cool Smashers thoroughly dominated the Fighting Warays in the opening frame, only to struggle against their foes’ spirited charge in the next two sets.
But they bucked the pressure and showed composure in each extended set to complete the straight-set win, their fourth against a loss to seize the solo lead and gain a spot in the quarters of the season-opening conference of the league.
However, Creamline still has some work to do if they hope to nail one of the two outright semifinals spots, especially as they have games coming up against BaliPure-NU on June 2 and Iriga on June 6.
Hometown hero Alyssa Valdez scored 22 points on 14 kills and eight aces, three of which came in a crucial stretch in the third set that allowed the Cool Smashers to gain control after trailing most of the way.
“It's always exciting to play, not only so hometown ko, but also out-of-town talaga kasi the crowds are very energetic. It's so nice to play for them kasi minsan lang sila nakakanood ng live. Nakakatuwa na nai-involve 'yung fans. Lalong-lalo na nasa Batangas tayo, siyempre mamahalin nila 'yung sariling sa atin,” said Valdez, who hails from San Juan, Batangas.
“Siyempre, it was tiring din kasi nagextend 'yung second set, siguro nagwarm-up lang 'yung Tacloban. Pero, noong sumunod na sets talagang extended din 'yung mga sets. Pag naririnig mo sila, they give you energy talaga,” she added.
Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin backed Valdez with 16 hits and eight excellent while Serbian Nikolina Asceric highlighted her nine-point effort with a couple of kill blocks. Risa Sato also scored on quick hits and a pair of aces for seven points.
Julia Morado, who scored two points, tossed in all but one of the Cool Smashers’ 30 excellent sets while spiking her effort with eight digs.
Thais Hyapha Amporn and Sasiwimol Sangpan combined for 25 points while Jovielyn Prado scored 11 markers for the Fighting Warays, who led by many as six in the second, 7-13, and four in the third, 18-22, before yielding in the end.
It was Tacloban’s second straight setback as the Warays dropped to joint fifth with the PetroGazz Angels at 2-3 heading to the final week of elims of the tournament.