DEFENDING champion Creamline gave finals first-timer PetroGazz a rude awakening, 24-26, 25-16, 25-16, 25-22, in Game One of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Season 3 Reinforced Conference Finals on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Alyssa Valdez and Kuttika Kaewpin led the Cool Smashers back from a 14-17 deficit in the fourth set, moving the franchise a win away from golden repeat in the Reinforced Conference and a third straight PVL title.
Kaewpin’s back-to-back aces and a Valdez hit capped a 5-0 run that enabled Creamline to wrest the lead, 19-17, before the five-time MVP put the Cool Smashers two points away from a win, 23-20.
Petro Gazz pair Chie Saet and Janisa Johnson trimmed the deficit to just one, 23-22. But Venezuelan import Ale Blanco put the team at match point before a controversial overreaching call on Cherry Nunag put an anti-climactic end to the match.
Kaewpin led Creamline with 21 points off 18 kills and three aces to go with 16 digs. Blanco put up 15 spikes and three aces for 18 points, while Valdez had 16 points laced with 15 digs and 11 excellent receptions.
“Breaks of the game talaga and Petro Gazz is very experienced team with two of the best imports right now dito sa PVL,” Valdez said. “Hangga’t hindi pa tapos ang game we kept on pushing each other and ayun maganda naman ang result.”
Ace playmaker Jia Morado was also instrumental in the win with 21 excellent sets as she outplayed PetroGazz setter Djanel Cheng, who had 13 excellent sets. Morado also orchestrated Creamline’s 57 attacks.
Creamline can end the best-of-three series with a sweep on PetroGazz on Saturday at the same venue.
Game Three, if necessary, will be played on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
Johnson led the way for Petro Gazz with 20 points to go with 18 excellent receptions and 14 digs. Wilma Salas added 18 points while Jeanette added four aces, four attacks and a pair of blocks for 10 markers.
The Angels made 31 errors compared to the 16 of the Cool Smashers.