Phenom Alyssa Valdez and beauty queen-athlete Michele Gumabao spoiled the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) debut of Sta. Lucia as they led the Creamline Cool Smashers in beating the Lady Realtors, 25-18, 25-20, 25-27, 25-18, at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte on Saturday.
Gumabao topscored for Creamline with 24 points, most of which came in the third and fourth set. She was named best player of the game.
Valdez, on the other hand, racked up points in the first two sets to finish the match with 20 markers, including three block points to give the Cool Smashers an opening day win in the maiden professional season of PVL.
"The sacrifices are there. We have to take time away from everything like family and work just to be here and be professional athletes. This is what we have all been waiting for the past years. Now it's here. We just wanna make it worthwhile," Gumabao said.
After losing the third set in a close encounter, Creamline got their acts together in the succeeding canto, creating an 11-7 separation after Gumabao’s back-to-back hits.
Jema Galanza, who tallied 13 points, extended their lead to 20-11 after an ace before Valdez went for a down-the-line spike.
The Lady Realtors tried to make a mini-run, cutting the deficit to six, 16-22, via a service ace of MJ Phillips.
But Jia Morado capitalized on the hot hand of Gumabao as the latter delivered two straight powerful hits for a 24-17 lead.
The Cool Smashers were three points away in sweeping the game in three sets, 22-19, but MJ Phillips came alive down the stretch, stealing the lead after a block, 23-22.
She put Sta. Lucia at set point after another block point, 26-25, before Jeanette Panaga of Creamline hit the ball wide to extend the match to four sets.
Phillips was the lone bright spot for the Lady Realtors with 20 points while veteran Aiza Maizo-Pontillas added 11 points. Mika Reyes was limited to only three points.
After a long delay due to the pandemic, the PVL finally got the greenlight from government to start its maiden season as a professional league but in a bubble in Ilocos Norte.