By: Ohmer Bautista
After a stunning loss last Sunday, the top-seeded Creamline Cool Smashers got themselves back on track, ramming defending champions Pocari Sweat-Air Force Lady Warriors, 25-16, 26-24, 22-25, 25-17, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference Semifinals at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“I think it was shown in today’s game that everyone really wanted this win,” Creamline skipper Alyssa Valdez said. “Lahat nang naglalaro, even outside na mga teammates namin, even the coaching staff, we really wanted this win to go to the do-or-die game on Friday.
“And, we really talked after the game noong Sunday,” the four-time PVL champion added. “So, we talked kung ano ‘yung technicalities na pagkukulang namin, and ano ang pagkukulang namin as a team, and we hope na na-resolve ‘yun at napakita naman namin in today’s game.”
Taking the opening salvo in lopsided manner, the Cool Smashers lost steam in the ensuing set, allowing Pocari Sweat to take a 19-13 advantage. However, their lead was short-lived, as the Cool Smashers broke the game wide open, uncorking a 13-5 rally to bury the Lady Warriors in a two-sets-to-none mire.
But with Myla Pablo steering the wheel in the third set, Pocari Sweat-Air Force exhibited championship mettle, mounting a 21-17 gap, and denying every run that Creamline tried to muster.
With no one giving ground in the close-quarters fourth set, both teams arrived at a stalemate, 8-all. In the next possession, however, a Laura Schaudt kill unshackled Creamline from the deadlock, inciting an 11-3 flurry, 20-12. Madeline Palmer tried to take matters in her own hands, scoring three consecutive points, but Michelle Gumabao’s clutch attacks slammed the door shut for any Pocari Sweat-Air Force comeback.
Gumabao led all scorers with 18 points off 14 spikes, two blocks and two aces. Valdez played an all-around game with 15 points, 23 digs, and 13 receptions. Laura Schaudt, who only scored a point in her season debut, bounced back with a 10-point outing spiked by two blocks.
Meanwhile, Palmer led Pocari Sweat-Air Force with 17 points. Pablo added 15 markers.
Still, despite the win, Valdez believes that the defending champions will not back down without a fight in the decisive Game 3, which will take place on Friday, July 6, at the same venue.
“Air Force will go back and will fight harder on Friday so we have to be ready also sa mga surprises na ipapakita nila,” the former Ateneo Lady Eagle ended.
Creamline (3) – Gumabao 18, Valdez 15, Kaewpin 14, Schaudt 10, Sato 6, Morado 2, Cabanos 1, Galanza 1, Mandapat 1, Ateinza (L), Gohing (L).
Pocari Sweat-Air Force (1) – Palmer 17, Pablo 15, Love 9, Panaga 7, Palomata 4, Yongco 0, Racraquin 0, Semana 0, Andaya 0, Antipuesto 0, Tempiatura (L), Balmaceda (L).
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