TOP setter Jia Morado was glad to see her gamble pay off as she clinched Creamline's win over Pocari Sweat-Air Force in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference on Sunday with two clutch aces.
The Cool Smashers flirted with disaster at the Arena in San Juan City, blowing a two-set lead and later going down 10-5 in the fifth before Dell Palomata's back-to-back hits put the Lady Warriors at match point, 14-12.
Morado, however, came to Creamline's rescue. First she orchestrated a beautiful combination play that set up Alyssa Valdez for a hit before Pocari’s Wendy Semana committed a crucial net touch to tie the game at 14-all.
The former Lady Eagle, who finished with 44 excellent sets on top of eight points, then delivered the coup de grace - two sharp float serves that sealed a hard-earned 25-19, 25-17, 20-25, 16-25, 16-14 win.
“Siyempre, they were leading eh, so if ‘yung server easy lang ‘yung ibibigay, it’s like we give the game na,” said Morado after her heroics sent Creamline to its fourth win in a row.
“So high risk, high reward din kasi ‘yung service sa ganoong crucial na moments, so thankfully, high reward naman ‘yung nakuha namin sa hard serves ko nung dulo,” she added.
The Finals MVP of the Reinforced Conference said that the key was their never-say-die attitude.
“Siguro hindi natatapos ‘yung game hangga’t di umaabot sa 15 or 25,” the 5-foot-6 playmaker said. “So we just had to regroup doon sa fifth set and remind ourselves na five points lang ‘yan, kaya ‘yan habulin. Hindi naman ‘yun imposible we just have to take it one point at a time and not let it get to our heads din.”
Four-time league MVP Valdez, Morado’s longtime teammate at Ateneo and now at Creamline, said the team was in good hands as soon as the former UAAP Best Setter stood on the service line.
“Jia is really a reliable server talaga kahit saan naman kahit mag-spike ata kaya niya pero we know na veteran na rin si Jia sa dami na rin ng pinagdaanan niyang five-setter games so alam na niya yung gagawin niya,” said Valdez, who dropped 22 points including 20 digs.
“And sino bang hindi nagtitiwala kay Jia Morado? Even si coach Tai (Bundit) kahit sabihan niya na ito na ‘yung play, maniniwala si coach Tai sa kanya.”
Valdez added that she and Morado were inspired by their teammates like Risa Sato, Jema Galanza and Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, who refused to lose.
“Everyone was really aiming to get the point and to reach fifteen din talaga so nakakatuwa as in if we’re inside the court tapos ganun yung makikita mo and mafi-feel mo as a teammate siyempre ikaw din perfect volleyball din lalaruin,” she said.