Grand slam-seeking Creamline is not taking any team in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference round robin semifinals lightly despite facing squads it had already defeated during the eliminations.
The Cool Smashers opened their Final Four campaign with a straight-sets win over Petro Gazz, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23, Thursday — the first time the squad won without dropping a set in the season-ending conference.
Although Creamline’s third victory in a row looked easy over the same rival it crushed in the eliminations, head coach Sherwin Meneses said that it does not mean his squad will have an easy time in its next two games.
“We don’t take that as an advantage. It will still depend on how we will perform against them,” Meneses said.
“I thought we just had an earlier rest after the eliminations compared to other teams. I guess that’s the advantage we had. But us beating them before is not an advantage. We’ll just know that on the day we play against them,” he added.
The Cool Smashers will take on Cignal HD Spikers, which swept Chery Tiggo in their semis opener, on Sunday in an all-important match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum where the winner will have a foot inside the best-of-three Finals.
Creamline will then face Chery Tiggo on Tuesday for its last Final Four assignment.
Alyssa Valdez, who had 11 points, 19 digs and 15 excellent receptions, hopes that the Cool Smashers would carry the momentum heading into their last two semis games to remain on the right track of annexing the import-laden conference crown to add to their Open and Invitational titles.
“We’re on equal footing coming into the semifinals so we really need to keep our focus. We really enjoyed today’s game and we’ve learned so much,” she said.
“Hopefully, we could carry the confidence after our first three sets win. We need to gain that confidence going to our few more games this semis.”
Against the Angels, Creamline kept its cool and remained focused despite the distraction of playing inside the sweltering Philsports Arena due to a malfunction in the venue’s air conditioning system.
The game pushed through despite the steamy condition throughout the opening set with the Cool Smashers eventually winning the frame after breaking a 15-15 deadlock.
The air conditioning system was eventually fixed in the second set.
“In practice, we’re used to train without aircon. I think we just turned our perspective into something positive. We’re doing this every single game so I think it was an advantage that our bodies warmed up,” she said.
“So I guess it worked for us. We’re just really thankful that everybody’s focused and paid no attention to those little distractions.”
Jema Galanza was also glad the Creamline was able to adjust.
“Good thing we were able to adjust despite the difficulty of playing in a hot gym. We were exhausted because of the high temperature but we just kept in mind that Petro Gazz was also experiencing it,” Galanza, who had 14 points, said.
“We just didn’t mind whatever the temperature was inside the court, all that mattered was that we play well.”