MANILA, Philippines – The grand slam-seeking Cool Smashers defeated Creamline and Choco Mucho 15 to 25, 25 to 20, 25 to 20, 28 to 26 to finish first in their Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference elims campaign. Creamline and Choco Mucho thrilled a record 19,000 screaming fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena with a thrilling match of power, quick hits, and saves.
Tots Carlos, who had been out with a back injury, thwarted Kat Tolentino’s attempt to save a set point for Creamline at 26 in the fourth. Then, the former UP stalwart slammed in a kill, and Jema Galanza finished off the dramatic all-Filipino match with an ace, disappointing Choco Mucho’s throngs of ecstatic supporters who had been cheering when the Flying Titans rallie.
Tolentino and Galanza exchanged kills to extend the match, but the Flying Titans, who didn’t have Odina Aliyeva on the court due to health issues, appeared to be heading for a fifth set after scoring a point off a Creamline error after a collision between Galanza and Jia de Guzman.
However, Carlos matched the score once more with a punishing block off Tolentino, and the Cool Smashers won the following two points to defeat the Flying Titans and secure their sixth victory against one loss.
Choco Mucho’s chances of making the semifinals were hampered by the defeat, which dropped the team to 3 to 4. Cignal and F2 Logistics, who have identical 3 to 3 records with two games left in the fiercely contested elims, are now in fourth and third place, respectively.
Tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, a crucial encounter between the HD Spikers and the Cargo Movers will take place during the penultimate elims matchup.
Petro Gazz is a lock to secure the third semifinal slot following Creamline and Chery Tiggo, which previously eliminated PLDT by scores of 25 to 20, 18 to 25, 22 to 25, 25 to 16, and 18 to 16 to end with a 6 to 2 record.
After scoring four points after two sets and with Aliyeva out, Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses complied and pulled out Yeliz Basa, paving the way for an all-Filipino matchup between sister teams.
Earlier, Choco Mucho stunned Creamline with a convincing first-set victory, but the Cool Smashers rallied to win the next two and looked poised to win in four after gaining a 24 to 20 advantage.
Although it turned out that the Cool Smashers had enough offense and defense to thwart their sister team’s ambition, the Flying Titans, encouraged by their raucous supporters, had other plans.
Carlos led the team in scoring for Creamline with 25 points, followed by Ced Domingo (15 points), a frequent MVP, and Alyssa Valdez (14 points).
Even though Galanza was only able to muster five points, her ace was enough to win the match for the Open Conference and Invitational champions.
For the Flying Titans, Tolentino finished with 24 points and Des Cheng added 17 points. They must beat the HD Spikers on Tuesday and hope that Cignal beats F2 Logistics to force a tie at 4 to 4.