MANILA, Philippines – Creamline showcased its championship experience to beat first-time finalist and sister team Choco Mucho in Game 1, 25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 25-22, and move to the brink of its third consecutive Premier Title of the Volleyball League (PVL) All-Filipino Conference on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Flying Titans didn't play like they were newcomers to the finals, pushing the defending champions to their limits in each set. But the Cool Smashers' championship poise and composure prevailed as they asserted their dominance over their sister team, remaining unbeaten in 10 games in their sibling duel.
Tots Carlos and Jema Galanza powered the Cool Smashers with 16 points each – all coming from attacks – with the latter also defending the floor with 13 digs and eight excellent receptions to outlast the Flying Titans in the two-hour Game 1.
“Of course we are happy about it, we are very happy for the fans and especially for our bosses who really support these two teams. So that's it, honestly we're very happy that we won and that's why we still have a lot to work on. We return to training tomorrow”, said Carlos.
Jeanette Panaga stepped up for Creamline, which is closing in on its seventh overall and fifth All-Filipino championship, with 13 points including four blocks. Alyssa Valdez and Michele Gumabao had 11 points each, while Kyle Negrito had 22 excellent sets in addition to four points.
“Today’s game was really a team effort, so I’m happy that every situation that happened today, we were able to find a way through,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses. “Seriously, Choco Mucho, this won’t make you lose either. You see, for the duration of the conference, they were the ones who came in, they are very hot in this conference, so we can't be complacent, but it's not over yet, there's still Game 2, so we'll work again tomorrow.”
Valdez, who had 11 digs and eight receptions, hit it big in the third set, where she recovered from a 12-17 deficit when she scored four consecutive points to put Creamline on set point, 24-23, before Deanna Wong blocked A hit by Galanza to force a draw.
Risa Sato blocked Sisi Rondina's attack to regain the set point lead, followed by Galanza's off-block hit on Wong's block attempt to take a 2-1 lead.
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Bernadeth Pons and Gumabao struck the final blows in the fourth set to secure victory. The Cool Smashers look to pull off a sweep in Game 2 on Saturday.
Maddie Madayag led the way for Choco Mucho with 18 points highlighted on seven blocks. Rondina had 17 points and 19 receptions, playing with knee pain after colliding with libero Thang Ponce at the start of the third, while Kat Tolentino had 16 points.