By CARLO ANOLIN
The Chery Tiggo Crossovers became the first professional volleyball league champions after edging the Creamline Cool Smashers, 23-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-8, in the rubber match of the 2021 PVL Open Conference finals at the PCV Socio-Civic & Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte Friday, Aug. 13.
Jaja Santiago, who lifted Chery Tiggo with her fourth set heroics, pounced on the error-plagued fifth frame showing by Creamline to raise their championship trophy.
Chery Tiggo waxed hot in the decisive set, unloading a 9-2 run before Creamline rallied to cut the deficit by three points,11-8.
But it proved to be the Cool Smashers’ last gallant stand as the Crossovers delivered the coup d grace via a 4-0 attack capped by Santiago’s quick attack off a Jasmine Nabor feed.
“Thank you, Lord. God is with us, the players were able to play as a team, work as a team, they gave encouraging words and we were able to boost each other’s morale,” said Chery Tiggo head coach Aaron Velez.
“I want to congratulate also Creamline. You know that they have the experience in this kind of level but thank God [we won.]. We really offer this to God and He guided us and we showed what we are made of. There’s nothing impossible with God, we just have to trust ourselves, trust one another and trust God.”
The Santiago sisters led the Crossovers anew as Dindin Santiago-Manabat hammered 32 points on top of 30 kills with 15 excellent digs while Jaja, who bagged both the Conference Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the Finals MVP honors, fired 22 kills and posted four blocks for 26 markers.
Nabor also contributed 34 excellent sets while Beatriz Duremdes had 26 excellent digs.
The Santiago sisters and Mylene Paat joined forces against the continuous frontline offense of Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez and Tots Carlos late in the fourth frame.
Tied at 23-all, Jaja and Dindin scored two straight points to force the decisive fifth set.
The Crossovers never wavered since the third canto as Dindin did her part to boost the team’s morale after scoring three straight points for a 24-17 cushion.
Creamline retaliated with a mini 4-0 blitz, 24-21, but Paat secured the final point heading into the make-or-break fourth set.
Carlos paced Creamline with 15 kills for 22 points, Valdez, who captured the Best Outside Spiker award, drilled in 17 points on top of 15 attacks, and Jema Galanza and Risa Sato added 14 points apiece.
Jia Morado, who was named Best Setter, tossed 47 excellent sets for the Cool Smashers.