PVL: Cool Smashers elude Jet Spikers in opener

Games Wednesday
2 p.m. – BaliPure vs Choco Mucho
4 p.m. – BanKo-Perlas vs Air Force

Creamline brushed off an early challenge from a returning Air Force side and went on to fashion out a 25-23, 25-20, 25-15 victory in a strong start to its back-to-back title drive in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.

Michele Gumabao took charge and fired 14 hits and drew solid backup from Alyssa Valdez, Risa Sato and Jema Galanza as they dished out big games coming off a break following their failed title-retention campaign in the import-laced Reinforced Conference although they needed to ride a first set scare from a tough-starting Jet Spikers before completing the straight-set victory.

This actually marked the first time in three conference that Creamline hurdled its opening game assignment after yielding a five-set defeat to PetroGazz in this conference last year and dropping a straight-set loss, also to the Angels, in this year’s Reinforced meet organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa, Asics and KFC.

The Cool Smashers celebrate after scoring a point against the Jet Spikers (PVL photo)
The Cool Smashers celebrate after scoring a point against the Jet Spikers (PVL photo)

“It’s so hard. I think every start of the conference, there’s this feeling that you don’t know what to expect from your opponents,” said Valdez. “Air Force, we haven’t seen them play for the longest time. Myla (Pablo) and (Jeanette) Panaga were still with the squad then but now, they’re a completely different team.”

Valdez backed Gumabao with 13 markers built on 10 spikes, two aces and a kill block and capped her superb all-around game with 12 digs and seven excellent receptions.

Sato and Galanza, meanwhile, delivered 11 and nine points, respectively, to underscore the Cool Smashers’ balanced scoring.

Dell Palomata matched Gumabao’s 14-hit game while May Ann Pantino added 10 markers for the Jet Spikers, who skipped the first conference but still showed it can measure up with the best with their veteran-laden crew.

That was evident in the opening frame where they battled back to threaten the Cool Smashers late in the set. But the defending champions kept their poise and cashed in on the breaks to foil their rivals before re-asserting their might in the next two.

“We’re really expecting a long and hard match but definitely in the first set, even as a team, we needed to adjust,” Valdez said.

Jia Morado produced 23 excellent sets to help the Cool Smashers nail 48 attack points while Kyla Atienza came through with 22 digs.