PVL: Creamline bags bronze but Valdez injures knee

Creamline pulled off a sweep, not of the three jewels in Year 2 of the Premier Volleyball League pro season, but of the bronze medal as the Cool Smashers repeated over the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, 25-15, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, in their duel for third in the Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig Tuesday.

Foiled in her two previous attacks, Jema Galanza never backed down and kept firing, delivering the clincher on her third try off two defenders after the Cool Smashers lost steam in the third frame and blew two match points in the next.

But they still did it, matching their four-set win (25-22, 22-25, 25-5, 25-19) in Game 1 of their side of the best-of-three series.

“Hindi namin nakuha yung grand slam pero marami pa namang opportunities na magawa ito,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses. “Di naman nawawala sa amin yun basta one game at a time. We will still be intact so we have chances pa.”

And the Open Conference and Invitational champions pulled it off without Turkish Yeliz Basa, who sustained an injury after the team bowed out of the finals race in the import-laced, season-ending conference organized by Sports Vision.

The crowd favorites also lost skipper Alyssa Valdez early in the third set after the many-time league MVP suffered a contusion in her right knee while saving a play near their bench.

She never saw action again and the Crossovers pounced on her absence to steal the frame largely behind import Jelena Cvijovic, Mylene Paat, EJ Laure and Cza Carandang and took control early in the fourth.

Jema Galanza and the Cool Smashers overcame the loss of Alyssa Valdez to a knee injury. (PVL Media Bureau)

But the rest of the Cool Smashers, led by Tots Carlos, Pangs Panaga, Ced Domingo, Galanza and ace playmaker Jia de Guzman, regrouped and battled back from five down to wrest control late in the frame on a decisive four-point binge after the Crossovers threatened at 19-20 on a Laure ace.

Domingo scored on a quick attack and an ace that sandwiched a Galanza power blast off a double-block then Panaga put the Cool Smashers at match point on another de Guzman quick play.

May Luna and Paat came away with back-to-back hits to stall the Cool Smashers but Galanza and de Guzman combined for Creamline’s last three plays with the former Adamson stalwart finally converting on her third attempt after getting thwarted twice.

“What a way to end our campaign with a win,” said de Guzman, who put up a 26-excellent set performance while adding four points. “We really had to dig deep and we’re happy for (winning) the bronze. We’ve been through a lot this year.”

Carlos top-scored for Creamline with 19 points, Galanza finished with 15 attack points for a 16-point output, Panaga chipped in 14 hits and Domingo had 12 points.

Valdez also churned out a 10-point effort in an abbreviated stint.

Paat came through with 19 points while Cvijovic produced a 13-point game and Laure and Carandang added 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Crossovers, who beat the Cool Smashers to earn the bragging rights as the league’s first pro champions in last year’s Open Conference held in a bubble setup in Ilocos Norte.

Despite the absence of Basa and Valdez’s exit, the Cool Smashers still overwhelmed the Crossovers in attacks, 67-44. They also pounced on their rivals’ wobbly service reception to score 10 aces, five more than the Crossovers.

Chery Tiggo, however, had more blocks, 9-7, but yielded 22 points off unforced errors against Creamline’s 14.


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