Creamline, PetroGazz seal finals showdown
Creamline and PetroGazz finally cemented what had long been a foregone conclusion: A showdown between two powerhouses for the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference championship.
The league’s top two teams, whose only losses this conference came at the hands of each other, shut out their respective best-of-three semifinal opponents on Saturday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Defending champion Creamline crushed PacificTown-Army, 25-12, 25-18, 25-13, while PetroGazz drubbed BanKo Perlas, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17, underscoring their dominance of an otherwise uneven field this conference.
They will start their best-of-three title series on Wednesday at Filoil Flying V Centre.
“We know that if we want to make the finals, we have to step up; every player on the bench, on the court, we all have to contribute,” Creamline’s Michelle Gumabao said. “And today, we proved that we are ready to be in the finals.”
Thai reinforcement Kuttika Kaewpin scored 12 points for the Cool Smashers, who also got inspired performances from Gumabao, Risa Sato, Alyssa Valdez and import Aleoscar Blanco.
Valdez had 11 points, Sato nine, Gumabao eight and Blanco—used sparingly because of the lopsided match—added seven for Creamline, which has won the last two conference titles.
It was the third straight final appearance for the Cool Smashers, while Angels will make their debut, thanks to a pair of prolific imports in Janisa Johnson and Wilma Salas.
“I’m very happy to bring my team to the finals. It’s all hard work not just by me but by the whole team,” said Salas, the Cuban hitter and veteran of the World Championships, through an interpreter.
PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog credited the mental toughness of his team, which he said would be their main weapon in the finals.
Johnson added 13 points for PetroGazz, while Jeanette Panaga and Cherry Nunag also came through for the Angels with nine and seven points, respectively.
Meanwhile, in Bulacan, Foton weathered a turbulent opening set to cruise to a 27-25, 25-15, 25-20 victory over Marinerang Pilipina and register its second straight win in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference at Malolos City Sports and Convention Center.
The Tornadoes, up against a bunch of Lady Skippers desperate to score their first win, needed key hits from Jaja Santiago to escape the worrisome first set and even their slate to 3-3.
“It was a good win for us, we can start to build a momentum from this win,” said Foton coach Aaron Velez.
Marinera has now lost five straight games.
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