MANILA, Philippines – Creamline avoided a crash, outpacing the unwinnable but stubborn United Auctioneers Inc.-Army, 25-12, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23 at the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Strengthened Conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
Setter Jia De Guzman kept the Cool Smashers afloat with her great playmaking and produced 23 excellent sets, three of which were never gone.
Turkish importers Yeliz Basa and Celine Domingo scored Creamline with 18 and 16 points, respectively, while Jema Galanza added 14 points in a massive defensive effort of 23 perfect picks and 11 digs.
Alyssa Valdez saw only limited movement and finished with five points.
When coach Sherwin Meneses opted to go with the Army to an all-Filipino team that could control Basa and get a 9-2 start on set, Tots Carlos came to save the half-tied Creamline in fourth place.
The two-time PVL MVP sped up and filled most of his seven points on frame four, helping the Cool Smashers avoid a decisive fifth set.
“They were an All-Filipino squad in the fourth set. Coach didn’t tell us anything because we’ve been together for almost how many years. I have been working with this team for almost two years. So we just had to practice what our coach taught us,” said Carlos of the Philippines, after Creamline (6-1) came back from a five-set meltdown against F2 Logistics on Tuesday.
“It reminded us when we forgot some things like positioning in attacks.”
Carlos and Galanza joined hands for a fourth-place retreat as De Guzman nailed an ace to close their six straights for a 19-14 spread. The University of the Philippines put Creamline’s lead 21-17, but Valdez’s back-to-back errors followed by a double clutch kill by Laura Condotta brought the Army 22-21.
Carlos stopped the bleeding but Condotta kept Lady Troopers ahead 23-22. Domingo tied the set with a quick hit before the Army imported from Canada made a mistake of attack. Galanza pierced the match-kill kill to finish the two-hour match.
Meneses knew his entire Filipino squad could close the game with their prolific experience in the AVC Cup and Asean Grand Prix.
“I trust my players. We all know that imports are always number one in a team’s system. But our team, with or without imports, will deliver because they all work hard in practice. As Meneses Filipinos, we are lucky with the solid team chemistry we have built up and it works especially critically for us.”
After dominating the first two sets, Cool Smashers lost power as they failed to make a 23-19 comeback in the third set.
Condotta carried the Army with 20 points, 13 digs and seven receptions. Nene Bautista and Jovelyn Gonzaga had 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
Royse Tubino missed the game due to personal issues, while at the same time Lady Troopers fell 0-6, their 12th straight loss since the last qualifying match in the Invited Conference.
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