Creamline clinches PVL Finals berth, continues unbeaten run | Inquirer Sports

Creamline clinches PVL Finals berth, continues unbeaten run

/ 06:46 PM July 25, 2023

Tots Carlos and Jia De Guzman. MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Defending champion Creamline overcame a lethargic start before sweeping Vietnam’s Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17, to secure a ticket to the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference Finals on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.

The Cool Smashers relied on Jia De Guzman’s brilliant playmaking with 17 excellent sets on top of three points as wing spikers Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez, and Jema Galanza delivered the goods anew to clinch one of the two championship berths with a 4-0 record in the round robin semis — unbeaten in seven matches in the tournament — and send the Vietnamese club to the brink of elimination with its third straight loss.

Creamline, which beat KingWhale Taipei to rule the Invitational Conference last year, is playing its ninth finals of the last 10 tournaments against the No.2 seed of the semis round-robin on Sunday.

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Japan’s Kurashiki Ablaze, currently holding the second seed with a 2-0 record in their ongoing match against the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers as of posting time, will be Creamline’s final semis game on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Carlos continued to show the way for the Cool Smashers with 16 points. Valdez put up 11 points and 11 excellent receptions, while Galanza added 10 markers and 10 digs.

“A win is a win. We really needed this win for us to be able to be back in the finals. We’re grateful that we won,” said Valdez as she returns to the finals stage after missing the All-Filipino Championship due to her right knee injury.

“The Vietnam team, they may be young, have a combination of young and veteran players, but they really played disciplined volleyball so it was hard for us to score points. But we’re very grateful, so it’s another motivation for us to keep working hard for the finals,” she added.

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After a tight duel in the first two sets, Creamline pulled away from a 20-17 lead in the third by scoring five straight points capped by Valdez’s attack and Celine Domingo’s match-winning block on Le Xuan

Creamline averted a slow start in the opening set, where it trailed, 7-14, before Michele Gumabao provided the spark from the bench and gave her team a 21-20 lead before Nguyen Oanh and Nguyen Huong return the lead on their side, 23-22. Le Tram committed a crucial net fault followed by back-to-back kills from Carlos and Valdez to steal the first set.

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The Cool Smashers blew a 19-11 spread in the second set as Huong scored three straight points to tie the frame but De Guzman’s smart 1-2 play and Galanza’s block restored the order for the local team, 22-20.

Huong and Oanh tied the set anew but a quick attack from Jeanette Panaga and an overreaching violation from the Vietnamese put them at set point, 24-22, before Xuan saved a point. Valdez nailed an off-the-block kill to end the second frame with a two-set lead.

Domingo finished with eight points including four blocks, while Gumabao and Panaga had seven markers each.

“We’re thankful to the players because they responded to our instructions. But we haven’t achieved our goal. Hopefully, we win the final again. We will work hard for it,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino.

Vietnam lost team captain Oanh early in the third set after hurting her left knee from a bad landing and got stretchered off the court with eight points.

Kinh Bac remained winless in three games, falling to the brink of elimination. A win by Kurashiki will end the Vietnamese’s final hopes along with F2 Logistics and Cignal, leaving PLDT (2-2) in contention.

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Huong powered Bac Ninh with 19 points, while Xuan added 10 markers before facing Cignal on Thursday.

TAGS: Creamline Cool Smashers, PVL, Vietnam

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