Creamline sets stage for another dominant PVL season after ruling All-Filipino
Tickets for this game were sold out just 12 minutes after the box-office opened.
Creamline definitely took a longer time than that—and the tougher road to boot—for the Cool Smashers to keep what is rightfully theirs and, together with a valiant Petro Gazz side, provide a Premier Volleyball League (PVL) title series show that will be remembered for a long time.
And with the way the Cool Smashers played when the only option left was to win, the rest of the season indeed looks rosy for this resilient bunch.
With its offense firing on all cylinders and its defense unforgiving, Creamline on Thursday—and for the second straight game—bucked an opening set loss to prevail, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-15 and retain the All-Filipino Conference championship before a boisterous throng numbering more than 12,000 at Mall of Asia Arena.
“The players just responded,” coach Sherwin Meneses said in Filipino in the din of the celebration at center court. “The players are dedicated and together with management support are assets of the team [for the rest of the season].”
The attacking triumvirate of Michele Gumabao, Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos was too much to handle for the Angels, whose own offense conked out when they needed it to work.
Of course, the Creamline defense had a lot to do with that as the Angels were limited to just 53 points in the final three sets.
The celebration at the stands started when an Aiza Maizo-Pontillas kill was smothered by a double block. And after Petro Gazz had saved one championship point for 24-15, Galanza soared above the defense in a combination play to drill in her 19th point at the heart of the Angels’ floor.
WATCH: The Cool Smashers and their fans celebrate their sweet #PVLAFC2023 title. | @LanceAgcaoilINQ pic.twitter.com/jMl3tcM6ae
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It was a very unconventional way for Creamline to win its sixth title in eight Finals appearances, as it needed to bounce back from a stinging Game 1 loss where the Angels flaunted the form that made them look like the title favorites.
“It wasn’t hard [to bounce back],” ace setter and Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) Jia de Guzman said. “After [the] Game 1 [loss], everyone was ready to bounce back, ready to practice the next day. We have our relationship in the team. we’re just playing for each other.”
Carlos, meanwhile, topped off an MVP conference with an overpowering performance that had the Angels befuddled in the decider.
Carlos wound up with 16 points, backing up Galanza and Gumabao, who had 18 to complete a remarkable rejuvenation that saw her become a vital piece from a role player the past season.
“Just super happy for this opportunity,” Gumabao said. “I haven’t played [this well] in a while.”
This is the fourth All-Filipino crown for the Creamline franchise and it touches off talks of a Grand Slam, one which the Cool Smashers narrowly missed getting a shot at after losing in the Final Four of the Reinforced Conference won by the Angels together with Lindsey Vanderweide.
For Petro Gazz, this was the third time it finished second here.
Celine Domingo was the fourth player in twin digits for the Cool Smashers with 16 and with Alyssa Valdez slated for a return from knee injury later in the year, Creamline indeed looks armed to the teeth to take a shot at a triple crown sweep for the second straight season.
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