BACARRA, ILOCOS NORTE — Creamline punched its ticket to the playoffs after handing Choco Mucho its first loss through a hard-fought, 18-25, 25-9, 21-25, 25-18, 15-6 result in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the PCV Socio-Civic and Cultural Center, Wednesday night.
The Cool Smashers rose to the top spot with a league-best 7-1 record.
After exchanging hits to start the decider, Tots Carlos led a 6-1 spurt to give Creamline an early 9-4 advantage.
Deanna Wong blocked Alyssa Valdez, but botched a service attempt in the ensuing play. That then the Cool Smashers ahead at 10-5.
Jia Morado converted a block while Rose Vargas delivered an ace to hand Creamline a 12-5 lead.
Caitlyn Viray stopped the bleeding for the Flying Titans, but Valdez answered right back with a hit. Then Sato followed suit to put the Cool Smashers at match-point.
Morado ended the match with an ace.
“I think one thing na our coaches keep on reminding us is to really just play, let it all out inside the court. We really just have to play for each other,” said Valdez.
Valdez had an all-around performance, scoring 22 points to go along with 23 digs and 12 receptions.
Gumabao tallied 19 points and 16 digs, while Carlos provided the spark with 16 points and 12 receptions. The returning Jeanette Panaga and Risa Sato chipped in 13 and 12 markers, respectively.
Morado glued things together with 37 excellent sets.
On the other hand, Choco Mucho slid to the second spot with a 6-1 record. It needs to win one of its last two games to join its sister team in post-season play.
Creamline’s victory likewise marked the return of Thai coach Tai Bundit, who took over from Sherwin Meneses after completing the IATF strict quarantine requirements.
It was a sorry setback for the Flying Titans, who appeared to play with so much maturity while having the Cool Smashers’ numbers with their big wins in the first and third sets. But held under pressure, they cracked up in the fourth, including costly miscues at endgame.
They actually kept the match tight by trading three hits in the fifth, behind Kat Tolentino. After Gumabao dumped in a hit after a couple of foiled Carlos’ attacks, though, the Flying Titans yielded another point on a net violation. Panaga later frustrated Tolentino’s own blast.
Then came Carlos’ back-to-back hits, and the former UP standout added another kill on the opposite side that sandwiched Maddie Madayag’s drop shot for a 9-4 Creamline lead.
Deanne Wong blocked Valdez in the ensuing play, only to give back the point on a service miscue. The Cool Smashers then racked up five of the last six points to pound out the victory in over two hours of top-class volleyball.
“All throughout the game may mga struggle, and may mga lapses pa rin. But I think all the shouting and ‘yung pagchi-cheer ng lahat nakita — niyo naman, it really helped the team,” Valdez expressed.
Kat Tolentino led the way for Choco Mucho with 16 points. Meanwhile, fellow Ateneo products Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston had 12 and 11 points respectively.
Regine Arocha protected the floor for Choco Mucho as well with 18 digs and 12 excellent receptions. Deanna Wong tossed 33 excellent sets.
Creamline will next face Perlas on Friday at 1:00 PM. Meanwhile, Choco Mucho looks to secure its spot in the semis against Petro Gazz on the same day at 4:00 PM.