PVL: Creamline powers past Choco Mucho, marches to Finals

The Creamline Cool Smashers celebrate after scoring against Choco Mucho. PVL Media.
The Creamline Cool Smashers celebrate after scoring against Choco Mucho. PVL Media.

MANILA (UPDATED) – The Creamline Cool Smashers marched back to the Finals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference after a masterful four-set victory against Choco Mucho, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In front of a packed crowd at the Pasay venue, the Cool Smashers shook off a slow start and outclassed the Flying Titans in the next three sets for a 23-25, 25-19, 25-18, 25-15 triumph in Game 2 of their best-of-3 semifinals series.

Tots Carlos scattered 23 points on 19 kills and three aces, Jema Galanza added 18 points, and Alyssa Valdez scored 17 as the Cool Smashers swept their sister team, having also won Game 1 last Friday.

This will be Creamline’s sixth consecutive Finals appearance. They will be eyeing redemption, having fallen short against Chery Tiggo in the 2021 PVL Open Conference Finals in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte in last year’s bubble.

“Thankful kami, kasi naka-recover kami sa first set, kasi medyo kinapos ‘yung habol namin sa first set. Pero siyempre yung maturity ng Creamline, andiyan palagi ‘yan. ‘Yung chemistry is okay na, so maglalaro na lang kami ng maayos, so nakuha namin ‘yung panalo,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses.

The Cool Smashers trailed 15-23 in Set 1 before a crosscourt hit by Valdez touched off a 7-0 run that got them within one point, 23-22. But Creamline sapped its own momentum through a Valdez service error to put Choco Mucho at set point. A Galanza hit momentarily kept Creamline alive, but they again shot themselves in the foot as Fille Cainglet-Cayetano committed another poor serve to hand the Flying Titans the Set 1 win.

Their rally in the first set clearly fired up the Cool Smashers, who played more seamlessly in the second set and surged to a 20-12 lead before Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro subbed in Bea de Leon, who gave the Flying Titans a much-needed spark.

Back-to-back blocks by De Leon helped Choco Mucho get as close as four points, 21-17, before a Carlos kill and a quick hit by Celine Domingo restored order for Creamline and helped them cruise to victory in Set 2.

“I think ‘yung momentum namin, pataas na rin before pa mag-end ‘yung first set,” said Carlos, whose ace ended the second set. “It’s just that ‘yun nga, sabi ni coach, mga basic errors namin. If we give points, talagang malaki ‘yung possibility na matatalo ‘yung set.”

With momentum on their side, Creamline won Set 3 comfortably and also claimed a 14-7 lead in the fourth frame before Almadro made another timely substitution, this time sending in Isa Molde for Ponggay Gaston.

Molde anchored a five-point run for the Flying Titans, getting them within two points, 14-12, but Valdez crushed a hit off the Choco Mucho blockers to end their run. Creamline would win 11 of the next 14 rallies to complete the victory.

“From the last year na campaign, we fell short, so the motivation in this campaign is extra for us,” said Valdez, who scored the match point off a combination play. “We can see naman kung gaano ka-hard working everyone, from the coaching to the players, we’re very focused.”

Kat Tolentino had 14 points but was mostly held in check by the Creamline defense, while Desiree Cheng added 13 points. De Leon had nine points off the bench.

The Cool Smashers had a massive 62-36 advantage in kills, along with a 10-4 advantage in service aces. Choco Mucho had seven kill blocks in the first set alone, finishing with 14, but Creamline also tallied 12 rejections in the game.

Creamline will play the winner of the other semifinals series between Cignal HD and PetroGazz, with the HD Spikers holding a 1-0 lead in the best-of-3 series. 

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