MANILA, Philippines -- With their triumph over Chery Tiggo in Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference finals on Wednesday night, Creamline is now an impressive 5-0 in five-set matches for the tournament.
The Cool Smashers squandered a two-set lead but recovered their form in the do-or-die frame, hacking out a 25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 19-25, 15-7 triumph over the Jaja Santiago-led Crossovers.
The win put them on the brink of back-to-back titles in the PVL Open Conference, having won the 2019 edition of the event before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to cancel all competitions last year.
For Creamline captain Alyssa Valdez, their experience in extended matches was crucial against a powerhouse Chery Tiggo squad.
"I think at the end of the day, may kumpyansa rin kami sa lahat nang nilaro naming five sets," she said. "Kahit papaano, nananalo pa rin kami."
"'Yun 'yung isa sa mga siguro, na-bring namin during the fifth set," she added.
Before Game 1 against Chery Tiggo, Creamline has also won five-setters against Black Mamba-Army, Choco Mucho, and Perlas in the elimination round, and Petro Gazz in the semifinals.
Valdez was superb in the decider against the Crossovers, scoring two of Creamline's final three points to secure the win. She finished with 21 points, all on kills.
The veteran open spiker explained that after losing the third and fourth sets, coach Tai Bundit told the Cool Smashers to treat the fifth as if it's a brand new game.
"One thing na sinabi sa amin ni Coach Tai, zero-zero," said Valdez, who leads all players with a total of 219 points so far in the conference. "Parang new set talaga, parang magi-start pa lang 'yung game. Lahat ng energy, binigay talaga namin during the fifth set."
The Cool Smashers did play with renewed energy in the fifth set, as they raced to a quick start and never let the Crossovers get their rhythm. An ace by setter Jia Morado put Creamline at match point, and Valdez finished off a combination play in the next rally to wrap up their win after two hours and 15 minutes.
Both Creamline and Chery Tiggo will barely get 24 hours to recover from their marathon match as Game 2 is set for 5 p.m. on Thursday.
"We have to bring our strongest heart in tomorrow's game," said Valdez. "Ano man ang result ng game na 'yun, magbibigay kami ng magandang laban, and ibibigay namin 'yung buong puso namin sa game."