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Gumabao nails the big hits, lifts Creamline past Sta. Lucia to open PVL defense

BACARRA, ILOCOS NORTE — Michelle Gumabao starred in Creamline’s 25-18, 25-21, 25-27, 25-18, debut victory over Sta. Lucia in the opening day of the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference, here at the Socio-Civic Cultural Center here.

The win extended the Cool Smashers’ winning streak to 21 games dating back to the 2019 Open Conference where the team swept the entire tournament en route to the championship.

Through multiple attacks, Gumabao engineered Creamline’s 18-9 advantage in the fourth set. MJ Philips tried to keep Sta. Lucia afloat, trimming the lead to just six points 16-22.

Gumabao, however, went for the jugular, scoring two straight before Jeanette Panaga slammed the doors shut with a running attack, 25-18.

The former PVL Best Opposite Spiker out of La Salle finished with 24 points founded on 21 attacks, two aces, and a block laced with 15 digs to spearhead Creamline’s victory.

Meanwhile, Alyssa Valdez ended up with 20 points on 17 attacks and three rejections.

“Naging supportive ang management dahil naka dalawang bubble kami. Siyempre hindi natin masasabi kung ano magiging game kasi syempre matagal nga yung bakasyon. ‘Yun team naman naging ready naman sila sa game na ito,” said Creamline assistant coach Sherwin Meneses, who is filling in for Tai Bundit who is undergoing quarantine.

Jia Morado tallied 25 excellent sets along with five points, four of which came from the service line.

“Lumaban talaga yung Sta. Lucia, ang lalaki eh so talagang nagtulong tulong lang yung team especially distribution ni Jia naging okay nakuha yung panalo. Yun nga sabi ko naging okay preparation for the bubble training medyo tama naman yung time kaya maganda condition nya. Talagang team effort kasi distributed yung bola eh,” he added.

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After a back and forth affair early in set one, Creamline zoomed to set point after two consecutive blocks from Valdez and an ace from Morado 24-15. Three consecutive errors on the Cool Smashers’ side pulled the Lady Realtors within six, but a Risa Sato kill gave the opener to Creamline.

The Cool Smashers lorded over the first few exchanges in the second set, but the Lady Realtors managed to get ahead by one, 16-15, to enter the second technical timeout. Still, it wasn’t enough as Creamline ran away with a 25-21 result.

A 5-0 rally from Philipps and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas late in the third set kept Sta. Lucia in the game, 27-25.

Philips was the lone bright spot for the debuting Sta. Lucia with 20 points built on 14 attacks, five blocks, and an ace. She also had 13 excellent digs in the loss.

Maizo-Pontillas had 11 points on nine attacks and two from the service line while Jovielyn Prado provided the spark off the bench with eight points and 16 excellent receptions.

Creamline will next face PVL rival Petro Gazz at 4:00 PM on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Sta. Lucia will try to bounce back against PLDT on Monday at 3:00 PM.

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