MANILA, Philippines — Creamline overcame a lethargic start and hung tight in the fourth set to withstand sister team Choco Mucho sans import Odina Aliyeva, 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 28-26, and end its elimination round on a high note in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.
With Aliyeva missing the action as she was placed under health and safety protocols and Creamline import Yeliz Basa playing only in the first two sets with four points due to shoulder injury, Tots Carlos rose to the occasion in front of 19,117 fans, pouring in 25 points, including the big blows in the fourth set.
The Cool Smashers squandered a 24-20 lead in the fourth set with the Flying Titans scoring four straight points courtesy of Maddie Madayag’s ace and Kat Tolentino’s block on Jema Galanza before Bea De Leon nailed the equalizer, 24-all. Galanza and Tolentino traded attacks to maintain the tie but Des Cheng scored a drop ball to put Choco Mucho at set point, 26-25.
Carlos came to the rescue, blocking Tolentino’s spike to tie the set and drilling a down-the-line kill to regain the match point, 27-26, before Galanza delivered the game-winning ace to end their two-hour and 18-minute duel.
Watch: Jema Galanza for the win! pic.twitter.com/G4ebTaYkds
— Lance Agcaoili (@LanceAgcaoilINQ) November 17, 2022
The two-time PVL MVP, who has been coming off the bench in their past games, played her best game of the conference with 18 spikes, six blocks, and an ace and also had 16 digs and 18 excellent receptions.
“We really made a huge adjustment in the first set as we only practiced that rotation yesterday. It became a problem for us but since my players are really familiar with each other they were able to bounce back in the next three sets,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino.
“Yeliz felt pain in her shoulder and we can’t gamble it. I can’t tell if it was a blessing or if it made the game harder for us. But both teams played well,” he added.
Celine Domingo was also instrumental with 15 points, including three aces. Alyssa Valdez had 14 points and 15 digs, as setter Jia De Guzman made 24 excellent sets on top of three markers to end Creamline’s elimination round with a 7-1 record.
The Cool Smashers shift their focus on the semifinal round as their No.1 seed finish won’t matter, playing another round robin with the top two teams advancing to the finals.
The Flying Titans fell to the brink of elimination as they slid to 3-4, needing to win their last game against the Cignal HD Spikers (3-3) next week.
Tolentino led Choco Mucho with 24 points, while Cheng had 17 points, including seven service aces — an ace shy of tying the PVL record for most aces by Valdez, who nailed eight in the 2018 Reinforced Conference.
Cheng also had seven attacks and three blocks on top of 16 excellent receptions and nine digs only for the Flying Titans to stay winless against the Cool Smashers since they joined the PVL three years ago.
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