Creamline overhauled a huge deficit in the second set then crushed BanKo-Perlas in the next to complete a 25-22, 27-25, 25-14 victory and move a win away from a sweep of the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
The Perlas Spikers looked headed to squaring off the match after yielding the opening set by seizing control at 16-9 in the second frame. But Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao, Pau Soriano, Rose Vargas and Kyle Negrito took care of business and steered the Cool Smashers to the big comeback before outlasting the Perlas Spikers in their extended duel to grab a 2-0 set lead.
Starting out strong in the third, the Cool Smashers raced to a 4-1 lead and sat on a 13-8 on a Negrito hit before cruising to victory and a repeat of their four-set triumph over the Perlas Spikers in their last Aug. 21 clash in the first round of the elims of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
The victory was Creamline’s 15th straight and third without top spiker Alyssa Valdez and ace playmaker Jia Morado, who are with the national team in Japan as part of the latter’s buildup for next month’s SEA Games.
BanKo-Perlas remained at third but its final 10-6 record gave idle Motolite (10-5) a chance to grab No. 3 and avoid facing powerhouse Creamline in the Final Four starting Sunday.
Without Valdez and Morado, Gumabao, Galanza, Negrito and company proved up to task although the defending champions needed to rebound from a so-so start in the second frame that enabled the Perlas Spikers to storm ahead by seven.
But Creamline racked up six straight points on a couple of hits, back-to-back kill blocks by Galanza and Soriano and two more attack points to threaten at 15-16. And though Dzi Gervacio broke Perlas’ silence with a hit, the Cool Smashers sustained their fightback with Galanza forcing a tie at 21 with an off-the-block hit and Soriano shoving the team on top on a quick attack off Negrito’s brilliant set-up.
The Perlas Spikers saved two match points, the last on a Kathy Bersola’s version of a quick hit but Gumabao closed it out with back-to-back power hits.
PetroGazz, on the other hand, is zeroing in on the second seeding at presstime against also-ran BaliPure, which it swept in the first round last Aug. 18. The Angels are expected to hike their record to 11-4 heading to the final elims playdate on Wednesday where they will take on another ousted squad the Choco Mucho Flying Titans.
Meanwhile, Air Force denied Chef’s Classic a graceful exit as it fashioned out a 25-15, 25-17, 25-20 victory late Saturday to keep the Red Spikers winless in 16 games.
Mae Cabalsa topscored with 12 hits, including five kill blocks to underscore Air Force’s domination of the net with the Jet Spikers also pouncing on the Red Spikers miscues which they converted to 33 points.
With Nieza Viray and Justine Tiu on the firing end, Chef’s Classics won the power battle with 31 attack points as against Air Force’s 25 but the Jet Spikers used their veteran smarts to dominate their young rivals in blocking, serves and hustle play.