Creamline delivered a masterful performance as it crushed KingWhale Taipei, 25-21, 25-19, 25-8 to reign supreme in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Alyssa Valdez and Celine Domingo were at their best, hounding and pounding the Taiwanese from the attack zone in this sudden-death championship battle that gave the Cool Smashers their fifth PVL crown in seven finals appearances.
Carlos delivered 12 kills to finish with 14 points while Galanza, Valdez and Domingo conspired for 33 points underscore the Cool Smashers’ balanced attack that dealt the Taiwanese their first — and most important — loss in this tournament.
With the win, the Cool Smashers formalized their claim as the country’s representative to the AVC Cup for Women that the country will host from 21 to 29 August.
Taiwanese Liao Yi-Jen, however, emerged as Best Setter while Valdez and Molina took home the Best Open Spikers plum and Qui Shi-Qing of KingWhale won the Best Libero award.
PLDT’s twin towers Mika Reyes and Dell Palomata were also recognized as Best Middle Blockers while Tots Carlos was named as Best Opposite Spiker.
Carlos was also named as Conference Most Valuable Player (MVP) while Domingo emerged as Finals MVP.
Meanwhile, Cignal overcame tremendous odds to hammer a come-from-behind 17-25, 20-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-5 win over PLDT to clinch the third-place honors.
The HD Spikers fought back from two sets down before pouncing on the High Speed Hitters’ erratic reception to deliver a strong finishing kick and complete the dramatic victory that gave them their second consecutive bronze medal.
Gel Cayuna led the charge in the crucial stretch, racking up a string of aces aided by three PLDT errors to erect a 6-0 lead that set the stage for the fifth set rout that sent the HD Spikers to a wild celebration after a grueling two hours and 29 minutes of action.
“We went through a lot,” said skipper Rachel Anne Daquis, who wrapped up the stirring come-from-behind win with a booming kill.
“We were never complete but we still played our hearts out because we really wanted to win.”
“It’s all about heart.”
Cignal head coach Shaq Delos Santos, who is no stranger to winning nerve-wracking battles, said he had to wake up his wards from an early slumber to turn what was supposed to be a straight-set loss into a thrilling five-set conquest.
“We had to wake them up,” said Delos Santos, who missed the services of Molina and middle blocker Ria Meneses.
“I told them that we worked hard to get here. Are we going to just accept this or fight our hearts out and turn things around? I’m happy that everybody stepped up and responded to the challenge.”
Daquis, the heart and soul of the squad, fired 16 points built on 13 kills, two blocks and an ace while Roselyn Doria stepped up defensively, posting a conference-record nine blocks to go with five hits for a 14-point effort.
Cignal got outhit by PLDT, 48-67, but came away with 15 blocks and finished with seven aces, including four from Cayuna, two more than their rivals.
But the HD Spikers pulled off the shock win by scoring 34 points off PLDT’s miscues, including a slew of unforced errors in the fifth, while yielding 21 of their own.
It was another stinging setback for PLDT, which earlier blew its two chances to get into the finals, losing to Creamline after seizing a 2-0 set lead, and KingWhale Taipei, after leading in the decider, in a pair of five-setters then squandering a big lead again and yielding to Cignal in five.
Reyes, arguably one of the best middle blockers in the country, came away with 19 points, but couldn’t pull the trigger in the decider in which the big fighting hearts of Daquis, Cayuna, Jackie Acuna, Roselyn Doria, Jerrili Malabanan, and Angeli Araneta were on full display.
Palomata scored all of her 17 points from the attack zone while team captain Rhea Dimaculangan tossed 24 excellent sets for PLDT, which settled for fourth after a fifth-place finish in the Open Conference.