MANILA, Philippines -- The Creamline Cool Smashers succumbed to pressure in their clash against Chery Tiggo on Tuesday, admitted their team captain, Alyssa Valdez.
The Cool Smashers entered the match needing to win in three or four sets in order to secure their spot in the finals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference. They started brightly, winning the opener, 25-16.
But they faltered down the stretch of the second set, and fell apart in the third frame. After taking an 11-10 lead in Set 3, Creamline had no answer for Chery Tiggo's net defense in the ensuing rallies. The Crossovers won the next eight points -- five through kill blocks -- to take control of the frame.
"I think pressure came in," said Valdez of their performance in the third set, which they lost, 14-25. "It's been a while since we felt that pressure. It's been a while na nabigyan kami ng ganitong situation also."
"I think we actually didn't get to handle it in such a way na as a champion team," she admitted. "So, [it's] on us. But we have to keep learning."
By losing the second and third sets, the Cool Smashers saw their chances of advancing to the finals evaporate. Instead, Petro Gazz claimed the second slot and arranged a championship showdown with Cignal HD.
Despite the letdown, Creamline went on to regroup and win the match in five sets, 25-16, 20-25, 14-25, 25-11, 15-9. It's the kind of response that Valdez expects from her team, and the veteran open spiker said she is proud of how they finished the game.
"We have to finish it. We have to respect the game, and buong Creamline team did that. So I'm actually proud of the team also," she said.
It's a sentiment shared by Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses, who said: "Siyempre, medyo masakit sa amin, pero sabi ko nga sa kanila, game 'to, kailangan nating tumapos ng kung ano 'yung trabaho natin."
"Kalimutan na kung ano 'yung naging result, kung mag-tie man. Ang importante, tumapos kami ng magandang laro. 'Yun lang ang iniisip namin," he added.
Valdez also stressed that as disappointed as they are not to make the finals, "it's not over yet." The Cool Smashers have a chance to salvage a third-place finish as they take on Chery Tiggo in the battle for the bronze medal.
"Iba-iba naman 'yung mga sitwasyon every time. So we're just really lucky to be in this situation. Actually, the privilege to feel that pressure and yeah, we're just grateful pa rin," said Valdez.
"Talagang hindi lang talaga siguro para sa amin itong Reinforced talaga," Meneses also said. "Pero we will play naman ng maganda sa mga next game namin. May game pa naman."
Creamline is missing the PVL finals for the first time since the 2017 Reinforced Conference, where they finished third. They had appeared in seven consecutive championship series and had a chance to complete a grand slam in the season.