PVL: Cool Smashers edge closer to crown

Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin steers Creamline to a Game 1 victory over PetroGazz in their Premier Volleyball League Season 3 Reinforced Conference finals. (Photo by Sports Vision)

Games Saturday
2 p.m. – PacificTown Army vs BanKo-Perlas (for third)
4 p.m. – Creamline vs PetroGazz (for title)

Piqued more than dismayed by its first set meltdown, Creamline showed its true worth in the next two frames then pulled through in a gripping endgame, hacking out a 24-26, 25-16, 25-16, 25-22 victory over PetroGazz at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan last night and inching closer to a third straight championship in the Premier Volleyball League.

Regaining control with back-to-back romps in the middle sets, the Cool Smashers charged back from big deficits early in the fourth but needed a costly miscue from Cherry Nuñag to complete the come-from-behind victory, actually their 12th straight after sweeping nine games in the elims and two over the PacificTown Army Lady Troopers in the Final Four of the Reinforced Conference.

That moved Creamline within a win from keeping their crown they won over the PayMaya side, also via sweep, last year with the Cool Smashers also crushing the Motolite-Ateneo Lady Eagles in two to win the Open conference diadem.

The match, forged after Creamline and PetroGazz powered their way in the elims and the semis, looked headed to a decider after the Angels, behind imports Wilma Salas and Janisa Johnson, threatened to within, 22-24, in the fourth on a Jonah Sabete power hit after Creamline reinforcement Ale Blanco put the team in match point with a spike that hit Johnson in the face.

The Angels foiled the Cool Smashers’ attack in the ensuing play, setting up Sabete for another power blast in Zone 4. But the referee called Nuñag for over-reaching, enabling the Cool Smashers to escape with that match-clinching point to the disappointment of the Angels and their fans.

Blanco went on to claim the best player of the game honors with 18 points, including 15 attack points and three aces.

Thai reinforcement Kuttika Kaewpin also dished out another solid game, finishing with 21 markers, so did Alyssa Valdez (16), Michele Gumabao (5), Risa Sato (5) and Jia Morado (21 excellent sets and three points) as the Cool Smashers extended their win run after dropping their opening game to the Angels last May 26.

The Angels took the first four points in the fourth and Johnson’s power tip kept PetroGazz on top at 17-14 before a service miscue by Jovielyn Prado and another attack error by Johnson pulled the Cool Smashers within one.

Creamline then took charge for good on back-to-back aces by Kaewpin and another Valdez hit made it 19-17 for the defending champions.
Salas, who normed 24 points in the semis, got slowed down by Creamline’s superb net defense, finishing with 18 points with Johnson topscoring for the team with 20 markers. Jeanette Panaga added 10 markers and Steph Mercado had six points and Nunag made five points.