After being inconsistent for much of the season, the Creamline Cool Smashers mustered a superb wire-to-wire performance to eliminate the gutsy Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers from the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference with a straight-set win 25-16, 26-24, 25-17 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Dominating the first set, Creamline needed a clutch rally to put away Air Force in the second set and for the match. The Cool Smashers trailed for most of the set, going down 22-24 after a string of attack errors. But Creamline’s offensive powerhouses, Alyssa Valdez and Kuttika Kaewpin smashed home devastating hits that demoralized Air Force’s solid floor defense. A hit and a few solid serves from Valdez setup Creamline’s late-set comeback.
By the third set, Air Force’s momentum had petered out and gave the Cool Smashers a clear path to the semis.
“Yes, buti na lang maikli kasi pinagpapawisan na kami, first set pa lang. Everybody did a good job, and I’m happy with how Alyssa, Alex [Cabanos], and Pau [Soriano] played,” said Creamline assistant coach Oliver Almadro. “That’s why I’m always reminding Pau and Alyssa is that they have to lead by maturity, both of them. Kasi the other players will listen to them.
“The import is there, ‘yan na ‘yan eh, kung ano ang meron sila, ‘yun na ‘yun. But the other players will follow kung ano ‘yung sisimulan ni Pau and ni Alyssa, and of course, susunod din ‘yung skills and mindset ni Alex. ‘Yun lang ang nire-remind namin, na they have to be mature, si Pau at si Alyssa,” the multi-time men’s volleyball champion coach furthered.
Three-time league MVP Valdez tallied a game-high 19 points while Thai reinforcement Kaewpin added 17.
With their 2-1 quarters record, Creamline broke into the semis after being at the bottom of the standings at one point of the season.
No one on Air Force managed double-digit scoring outputs with Iari Yongco tallying just seven points.
The Lady Jet Spikers bowed out of the tournament with an 0-3 quarters record.
Creamline (3) – Valdez 19, Kaewpin 17, Schaudt 8, Galanza 7, Soriano 6, Cabanos 1, Remulla 1, Racraquin (L)
Air Force (0) – Yongco 7, Antipuesto 6, Tapic 6, Saengmuang 5, Pantino 4, Cases 2, Semana 2, Balmaceda (L)