By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Creamline started its title campaign in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference with a 25-18, 25-20, 25-27, 25-18 victory over the Sta Lucia Lady Realtors Saturday night at the PVC Socio-Cultural Civic Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
The Cool Smashers once again drew strength from hard-hitting Michele Gumabao and Alyssa Valdez in giving the debuting Lady Realtors a rude welcome in the league.
Gumabao erupted for 24 points highlighted by 21 attacks while Valdez fired 17 hits and had three blocks to finish with 20 points.
Jema Galanza was equally sharp, contributing 13 points, while Jeanette Panaga posted five blocks to finish with 10 points.
The Cool Smashers waxed hot at the attack line by blasting 61 kills compared to the Lady Realtors’ 43.
Sta Lucia averted a Creamline sweep by taking the third set, but the Cool Smashers quickly recovered in the fourth.
MJ Phillips led the Lady Realtors with 20 points, while Aiza Pontillas and Jovie Prado combined for 19 points.
Earlier, Chery Tiggo downed PLDT Home Fibr, 25-20, 25-17, 25-6, to jumpstart its own title bid.
Joy Dacoron, Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago spearheaded the Crossovers’ assault by combining for 36 points.
Dacoron led with 13 points while sisters Dindin and Jaja chipped in 12 and 11.
Chery Tiggo coach Aaron Velez lauded his players for starting their bid on a bright note but noted that there are still a lot to adjust after being sidelined for more than a year due to the pandemic.
“Na-perform naman nila yung kanilang mga roles, however, this is still part of our adjustment period so we need to still push harder,” Velez said.
The Santiago sisters took charge of Chery Tiggo’s offense by combining for 17 of the team’s 38 attacks while Dacoron had six of the team’s nine blocks.
The Crossovers also sizzled at the service area with eight aces – four coming from Jaja – and took advantage of the Power Hitters’ lackluster defense as PLDT failed to convert a single block out of 33 tries.