By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Creamline teetered on the brink of collapse before Alyssa Valdez rose and delivered the telling blows as the Cool Smashers outlasted the Chery Tiggo Crossovers in an expected tense duel, 25-15, 25-21, 18-25, 19-25, 15-7, in Game 1 of their finals in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference Wednesday at the PVC Socio-Civic & Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte.
Valdez led the team’s recovery with her thunderous spikes, including the final point that sealed the win in the opener of their best-of-three series, pushing them closer to winning the country’s first pro volleyball league crown.
“Coach Tai (Bundit) would always say it’s 0-0 going to the fifth set. So yun lang yung mindset namin and we really gave it all in the fifth set,” said Valdez, who poured all her 21 points at the attack line.
Tots Carlos continued to make waves with her consistent plays by pumping in 26 points, including 22 kills and three blocks, while Jema Galanza chipped in 17 points.
Jia Morado spread the ball so well on the way to 41 excellent sets on top of seven points highlighted by four aces.
Creamline took the first two sets with nary a trouble but complacency led them to losing the third and fourth frames.
Responding to the challenge of their coach, the Cool Smashers raced to 7-2 lead in the deciding fifth frame and never looked back.
The Cool Smashers’ victory also overshadowed the efforts of sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat, who fired 25 and 19 points in a losing effort for the Crossovers.
Game 2 of the finals will be Thursday.
Earlier, Petro Gazz recovered from a third-set stumble and edged Choco Mucho, 25-21, 25-15, 22-25, 25-20, in the battle for third place that saw Choco Mucho’s Maddie Madayag hurt her left knee following a bad landing in the fourth.
Myla Pablo starred for the Angels by erupting for 26 points built on 25 attacks as they moved closer to the consolation trophy.
Ponggay Gastron took the scoring cudgels for Choco Mucho, pounding out with 18 points as Kat Tolentino groped for 10 hits.