MANILA, Philippines — Yeliz Basa and Alyssa Valdez willed Creamline back from a 1-2 match deficit to eke out a 25-16, 20-25, 14-25, 25-11, 15-9 victory over also-ran Chery Tiggo in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference semifinals on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.
The five-set victory, however, wasn’t enough to propel the Cool Smashers into the finals, ending their dreams of achieving a Grand Slam.
Instead, Petro Gazz claimed the last finals berth due to a superior set ratio and forged a best-of-three title duel with Cignal beginning Thursday at Araneta Coliseum.
After a dominant opening set, the Cool Smashers faltered in the next two sets to Mylene Paat and the Crossovers as their streak of finals appearances was snapped at seven.
Cignal, Petro Gazz, and Creamline all finished with similar 2-1 slates but the Cool Smashers ended up having the lowest set ratio.
Creamline led 10-7 in the third before Paat sparked a 15-2 Chery Tiggo surge capped by her four straight points for a commanding 22-12 lead. A net touch violation ended the Crossovers’ run but the Cool Smashers only scored one attack point from Celine Domingo, 23-14, before Valdez committed an attack error, which eliminated them from title contention.
But the Cool Smashers kept their heads up and dominated the last two sets with Turkish spike Basa delivered her conference-best with 27 points built on 22 kills, three aces, and two blocks, while Valdez delivered 18 points off 15 attacks and three blocks.
“It’s weird. It’s kinda weird that even if we won the game, unfortunately, we weren’t able to get into the finals. But, we have to finish it. We have to respect the game, and the whole Creamline team did that,” said Valdez, who was holding back her tears during the postgame interview.
“I’m actually proud of the team also. And it’s not over yet. I mean, we’re also given this opportunity also to reflect on ourselves, on our team, and that’s a very good thing for us. It’s been a while since it happened. So we take it as a challenge also.”
The last time Creamline played in a bronze medal match was back in 2017, when Valdez was still playing overseas, while setter Jia De Guzman was leading Ateneo in the UAAP.
Cool Smashers coach Sherwin Meneses, who also drew 12 points and 18 receptions from Jema Galanza and 24 excellent sets with 12 digs and six points from De Guzman, still lauded his wards despite the heartbreaking outcome.
“It hurts for us but I told them we have to get our job done. Forget the result, what’s important for us is to finish with a good game,” said Meneses in Filipino.
“The result is not in our hands because our opponents will keep on fighting. It’s okay because we got the win even if we didn’t make it to the Finals. We still have more conferences to bounce back.”
Creamline and Chery Tiggo clash in a best-of-three series for the bronze medal also on Thursday.
Paat led the Crossovers with 15 points, including five blocks, and had 15 digs. Import Jelena Cvijovic had 13 points, Cza Carandang chipped in 12 points, while Shaya Adorador added 10 markers and 12 excellent receptions only to lose all their three matches in the semis.