MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The Creamline Cool Smashers recovered from a dip in form in the second set to turn back Army Black Mamba in four, giving them a winning start in the semifinals of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference.
The Cool Smashers faltered in the closing stretch of Set 2 but regained their rhythm in the third and fourth to secure a 25-21, 23-25, 25-19, 25-17 triumph on Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Creamline made up for an error-strewn performance with another overwhelming offensive display, tallying a 63-43 advantage in kills. Tots Carlos, sporting a new pink hairdo, fired 24 points on 21 kills along with 19 digs, while Alyssa Valdez had 18 points and Jema Galanza added 12.
The Cool Smashers now have a 1-0 record in the semis, while Army absorbed back-to-back defeats.
The Lady Troopers were more composed down the stretch of the second set, with veteran Jovelyn Gonzaga scoring the hit that shattered a 23-all deadlock and put Army at set point. An ace by Audrey Paran to start the next rally gave Army the win and equalized the match.
But the Cool Smashers bounced back with a comfortable victory in Set 3, and cruised to a big win in the fourth set as well. The Lady Troopers were able to get within three points, 14-11, off Creamline's errors but the Cool Smashers won the next five rallies to seize control of the set, 19-11.
Their lead stretched to 10 points, 23-13, thanks to an offspeed hit by Valdez. Service errors by Carlos and Valdez gave Army some hope, but a booming kill by Galanza ended matters after two hours and five minutes.
Jia de Guzman was credited with 28 excellent sets in the win, while Galanza added 14 digs and eight excellent receptions to her stat line. The Cool Smashers won despite committing 30 unforced errors in the match.
Gonzaga had a superb all-around game with 13 points, 18 digs and 18 excellent receptions, but her efforts weren't enough to give Army its first win of the semifinals phase.
Royse Tubino had 11 points, and Joanne Bunag and Jeanette Villareal each scored 10 markers for the Lady Troopers, whose chances of competing for a podium spot are dimming after a second straight loss.