The Chery Tiggo Crossovers refused to hand Creamline Cool Smashers the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference title without a fight on Thursday as they forced a deciding Game 3 in their best-of-three finals series.
After narrowly losing Game 1 in five sets, Chery Tiggo showed no fatigue despite playing for six straight days to take Game 2 over Creamline, 25-18, 17-25, 25-16, 25-21, at the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
The Crossovers leaned on their strong serves that gave them nine extra points and impressive net defense, tallying 12 kill blocks compared to just five of the Cool Smashers.
Creamline tried to extend the match into a fifth set, starting well in the fourth frame after Alyssa Valdez’s series of attacks, 11-8.
But Chery Tiggo slowly clawed back, stealing the lead midway of the set after an ace by Joy Dacoron and a block by Shaya Adorador, 15-14.
The Crossovers then capitalized on Jaja Santiago’s presence in the front, going to the tallest player in the court almost exclusively during a 5-1 run for a 20-17 advantage.
Creamline kept threatening until the latter part of the fourth but Dindin Santiago-Manabat took charge, finishing the match via a back row spike and forcing a series extension.
“Thank you, Lord. We were guided, God is with us. The players were able to play as a team, work as a team. They gave encouraging words and we were able to boost each other's morale,” head coach Aaron Velez said.
Santiago once again led the charge for Crossovers with 25 big points, including three blocks and two aces. Her elder sister Manabat registered 18 points.
Meanwhile, Creamline received solid contributions from Valdez, who had 18 points, Jema Galanza (17 points) and Tots Carlos (15 points).
With the series even, the two teams will meet again one last time on Friday at 3 p.m. with the winner taking home the maiden title of PVL as a professional league.