MANILA, Philippines – The Creamline Cool Smashers completed a stunning five-set heist from two frames down at the expense of the PLDT High Speed Hitters, 22-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 15-12, in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City on Saturday, August 6.
Tots Carlos led another balanced scoring attack in the thrilling win with 22 points off 18 attacks, 3 blocks, and 1 ace, while Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Pangs Panaga each scored 14.
Kyla Atienza also shored up the defense with her best game of the conference so far, tallying 23 excellent digs and 17 excellent receptions as Creamline rose to a 2-0 semifinals slate.
Coming off a heartbreaking second-set loss after leading by as many as 7, 11-18, Creamline got its act together in the third and fourth frames and carried momentum all the way to a 10-5 lead in the deciding fifth set.
Unfazed, PLDT rallied to an 11-all tie off a 6-1 spurt capped by an Eli Soyud block point. However, a Soyud foot fault right afterwards started a crucial 3-point swing by the Cool Smashers, ending with a match point Panaga block on a Soyud smash.
The High Speed Hitters only managed one saved point off a Creamline service error before Carlos rejected Chin Basas’ attack to complete the come-from-behind charge.
Rhea Dimaculangan paced the loss with 27 excellent sets as Dell Palomata and Mika Reyes scored 14 and 13, respectively. After a torrid start, PLDT now settles for second place with a 2-1 record.
Meanwhile, in the first game, the Cignal HD Spikers snapped a three-game skid to eliminate the Army Black Mamba Lady Troopers from finals contention off a five-set thriller, 26-24, 26-28, 25-18, 18-25, 16-14.
Reigning Open Conference Best Setter Gel Cayuna had her best outing yet in the Invitationals with 39 excellent sets. Best Middle Blocker Ria Meneses led the attack department with 23 points off 20 spikes, while Ces Molina earned a triple-double off 16 points, 22 excellent receptions, and 16 excellent digs.
Rachel Anne Daquis also scored 15 as Cignal notched a 1-1 record in the semifinal round while sending the Army down to a 0-3 slate.
Jovelyn Gonzaga paced the heartbreaking loss with 21 points, while veteran Joanne Bunag added 18 points off 17 attacks.
Creamline can keep its undefeated semis run going with a win on Monday, August 8, 5:30 pm, against the Philippine national team, the last-minute replacements of the COVID-stricken Kobe Shinwa Women’s University of Japan.
Meanwhile, Cignal welcomes the conference’s last remaining foreign team Kingwhale Taipei of Taiwan on Monday’s 2:30 pm opener at the Mall of Asia Arena, while the Army is left to play for pride against the Philippine national team on Tuesday, August 9, 2:30 pm.
PLDT will then aim for a bounce-back win against Kingwhale at Tuesday’s 5:30 pm main event. – Rappler.com