Cool Smashers keep 2nd spot, sink Water Defenders

Angel Antipuesto of Pocari foils one of Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez’s vaunted attacks in sudden death of their semis duel.

Creamline slowed down in the third frame but still found a way to subdue a luckless BaliPure side, 25-19, 25-18, 25-23, and firm up its hold of the second spot in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Alyssa Valdez took over from imports Kuttika Kaewpin and Aleoscar Blanco, blasting in 12 kills and adding four aces for a 16-point performance as the Cool Smashers racked up their fourth straight victory after an opening day stumble to the PetroGazz Angels to close out their first round elims campaign at second.

Kaewpin backed her up with 11 points while Blanco added nine markers for the defending champions who will head next to Iloilo for the league’s first out-of-town game on Saturday against the BanKo-Perlas Spikers.

The Angels, who are playing with the Perlas Spikers at presstime, face the Water Defenders while the Motolite Power Builders and the PacificTown Army Lady Troopers tangle in Imus, Cavite on Sunday.

With Jia Morado ably providing the set plays for Creamline’s hitters, the Cool Smashers took the first two sets in lopsided fashions with coach Tai Bundit trying different combinations. But the Water Defenders parlayed their fancied rivals’ slow start in the third and wrested control at 10-4, only to crumble in the face of the Cool Smashers’ strong comeback.

“We kind of turned a bit complacent after taking the first two sets. But we were able to cash in on the breaks in the third,” said Valdez.

After Creamline countered with seven straight points to wrest control at 11-10, the Water Defenders kept the game close with Menchie Tubiera delivering a kill to put BaliPure ahead, 21-20.

But the Cool Smashers took the next three points, including a Risa Sato block, a Jema Galanza ace capped by an attack error by Tubiera.

Sandra delos Santos scored on a kill block for BaliPure but Tubiera committed a service miscue although Slovenian import Alexandra Vajdova saved a match point with a hit before Sato came through with a kill block to help extend the Cool Smashers’ win run and deal the Water Defenders their fifth straight setback in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and sponsored by Mikasa, Asics and KFC.

Vajdova finished with 17 hits while fellow reinforcement Danijela Dzakovic of Montenegro chipped in 10 points for the Water Defenders, who also drew eight markers from Tubiera in a two-set stint.

BaliPure beat Creamline in blocks, 8-5, but the latter unloaded 44 attack points, 10 more than their rivals and made six aces against BaliPure’s four and pounced on its rival’s miscues, scoring 20 points while giving up 14 markers on errors.