MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The Creamline Cool Smashers earned their breakthrough crown in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) in style, as they swept PayMaya in the finals to rule the Reinforced Conference.
With virtually every player contributing, the Cool Smashers overwhelmed the High Flyers, 25-19, 25-20, 25-11, in front of a respectable Wednesday crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday to claim their maiden championship in the league.
It was a fitting follow-up to their four-set win in Game 1, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-19, last Sunday as the Cool Smashers swept the best-of-3 finals series.
With the win, Creamline also secured a bronze medal for BanKo-Perlas.
Local ace Alyssa Valdez led the way for the Cool Smashers with 19 points on 15 kills, three aces, and a block, while Michele Gumabao and Kuttika Kaewpin each tallied 12 points. Playmaker Jia Morado was credited with 29 excellent sets en route to winning Finals MVP honors.
“It’s been a while, three years since I got a championship and also Jia,” said Valdez, whose last title also occurred at the MOA Arena in the UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament. “I think this is the turning point of my professional career in volleyball.”
After drawing first blood, the Cool Smashers struggled in the second set, trailing 7-10 early after Kaewpin sent a serve long. But Valdez rallied them back into the contest, as she scored on a down-the-line kill before adding an ace, highlighting a 7-1 exchange that gave them a 14-11 lead.
Creamline went on to lead, 20-17, off yet another Valdez kill, this time a clever drop that caught the PayMaya defense off-guard. But back-to-back hitting errors by the Cool Smashers pushed the High Flyers within one, 19-20.
The Cool Smashers got a break in the next rally, however, when Valdez’s hit caught the tape of the net before falling into an unguarded spot on PayMaya’s court. That sparked a 5-1 run to end the set for Creamline, with Kaewpin putting the finishing touches on the victory with a booming crosscourt attack.
It was all Creamline from there, as the Cool Smashers raced to an 8-2 lead in the third set before going on to post a 23-9 advantage over the dispirited PayMaya spikers. An off-the-block kill by Gumabao put them at match point, 24-10, before Tess Rountree saved one with an attack from the middle.
Unfortunately for PayMaya, their campaign ended in brutal fashion as Jerilli Malabanan sent her next serve long, gifting the Cool Smashers with the winner.
“We know na pagdating ng finals, bakbakan talaga,” said Valdez. “We’re just thankful to our coaching staff. Siguro, mga 1,000 spikes ang ginagawa nila during training para maka-depensa kami during games.”
It was the first PVL title for Creamline after a pair of third-place finishes last year, in what was their first season in the league.
Rountree was the lone player in double-digits for PayMaya, with 12 points. Shelby Sullivan was limited to five, while local star Grethcel Soltones had six markers.
PayMaya, as a team, tallied only 28 kills against Creamline’s 42. The Cool Smashers also came up with 12 kill blocks in the game to further frustrate the High Flyers.
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