PVL: Cool Smashers inch closer to fifth-straight finals appearance

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Creamline moved on the cusp of a fifth consecutive Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino finals appearance after fending off F2 Logistics, 26-24, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15 in Game One of the semis in front of a jampacked Philsports Arena on Saturday, Mar. 18.

It was a blockbuster event played in front of 6,471 fans and the Cool Smashers made sure to not disappoint.

“Syempre, happy kami kasi it’s [the] semifinals na eh. So, timing yung pagkapanalo namin,” said Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses as the Rebisco-backed squad finally got one over the Cargo Movers after losing its past two match-ups.

Michelle Gumabao of Creamline [PVL photo]
Michelle Gumabao of Creamline [PVL photo]

“Pero hindi pa naman tapos yung laban. So, kailangan pa talaga magprepare. Pero happy kami naka-isa na kami sa F2,” he added after the match that lasted for two hours and 20 minutes.

In the first set, Creamline found itself trailing 23-24 but managed to tie the score with a deuce after Kianna Dy committed a centerline fault. However, a miscommunication between Ivy Lacsina and Dy allowed the Cool Smashers to fall behind again, and Tots Carlos eventually scored an off-the-block hit to give her team a 1-0 lead.

Creamline bounced back in the second set, going on a 12-2 run, with Jeanette Panaga contributing five points, to turn a 4-6 deficit into a commanding 16-8 lead. They went on to win the set 25-18.

In the third set, F2 Logistics broke a 19-all tie with Aby Marano and Elaine Kasilag leading the way in a 3-0 run that gave them a 22-19 advantage. Ced Domingo and Michelle Gumabao scored back-to-back points for the Cool Smashers, but F2 Logistics won the set with Kim Fajardo winning a joust against Panaga and Kasilag blocking Jema Galanza to secure a 24-21 lead. Gumabao managed to save one set point, but Kasilag’s cross-court attack sealed the set for F2 Logistics and forced a fourth set.

The Cool Smashers went on a blistering 8-1 start in the fourth set and never looked back to take Game One.

Tots Carlos had an outstanding performance, scoring 22 points on 22 attacks, while also contributing 17 excellent digs and 15 excellent receptions, earning her a triple-double. Michele Gumabao also played a key role, firing 20 points as the Cool Smashers moved closer to securing a spot in the finals.

“Mga leader din naman yung mga players namin so alam nila kung paano mag-compose sa laro. Naka-focus naman sila, tapos na yun [third set] so maganda naman yung pag-recover nila sa fourth set,” added Meneses.

Creamline’s Jema Galanza contributed 12 points and nine excellent receptions, while Jeanette Panaga added 11 markers to the team’s total. Jia De Guzman provided excellent sets, tallying 26 in the match, and Kyla Atienza collected 22 excellent digs as Creamline played their first semifinal game without team captain Alyssa Valdez, who is recovering from a right knee injury.

The Cool Smashers will look for the sweep on Tuesday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasig.

On the other hand, F2 Logistics played without Pablo for the second consecutive game, as she was still recovering from the cramps she suffered in their previous match against Choco Mucho on March 7.

Kianna Dy led the scoring for the Cargo Movers with 13 points, followed by Elaine Kasilag and Ivy Lacsina with 11 and 10 points, respectively.