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Creamline nears bronze

Jeanette Panaga hosted a block party as Creamline vented its ire on Chery Tiggo, 25-22, 22-25, 25-5, 25-19, to move on the cusp of salvaging a podium finish in Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference best-of-three battle for third yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite fielding an all-Filipino lineup with Turkish import Yeliz Basa riding the bench the whole match, the Cool Smashers’ impressive net game proved too much for the Crossovers, who suffered a severe beating in the third frame.

Panaga registered a conference-best nine kill blocks on her way to a 14-point outing for Creamline, which tallied 17 kill blocks including seven in its clinical third frame drubbing of the same team that foiled its grand slam attempt two days ago at the end of the round robin semifinals.

Panaga’s kill blocks tied Cignal middle blocker Roselyn Doria’s nine denials she set in the Invitational Conference battle for third win against PLDT.

“I didn’t know I had that many blocks. I’m just playing for the team and I just want to win,” Panaga said.

The Cool Smashers, who came up short of an eighth straight championship stint due to inferior match points after yielding two frames against the Crossovers in their semifinals duel they won in five sets, can claim the bronze medal on Tuesday.

Creamline dominated the third set after surrendering the second frame as it raced to an 11-0 lead that even ballooned to 16-1 after a Panaga hit.

The Cool Smashers’ third set win margin is their second most lopsided set victory after crushing BaliPure, 25-12, 25-3, 25-15, in the PVL Open Conference bubble last 28 July 2021.

“Of course, we’re happy we got the win. We recovered from the pain of not playing in the finals. We just enjoyed the game, played our game and let the win eventually follow,” Creamline coach Sherwin Malonzo said.

Tots Carlos scored all but one of her points on kills and added 17 digs, Alyssa Valdez got 12 spikes and four kill blocks for 16 points she laced with 10 digs while Michele Gumabao came off the bench to score 11 points including the Cool Smashers’ last three points to close the match that last two hours and three minutes.

Jema Galanza chipped in 10 points and nine excellent receptions while Jia de Guzman tallied 17 excellent sets for Creamline.

The Cool Smashers came back from a 9-16 deficit in the opening set to draw first blood. Chery Tiggo equalized in the second frame but not after squandering a 19-13 lead.

The Crossovers threatened to force a deciding frame after taking control of the fourth set early only to see Creamline recover all thanks to solid net defense.

Cherry Tiggo suffered its fourth straight defeat after a winless stint in the semifinals.

Roselle Baliton got 10 points to lead the Crossovers. Montenegrin import Jelena Cvijovic had nine points while Most Valuable Player contender Mylene Paat scored a conference-low eight points.

EJ Laure had eight markers, 14 digs and 27 excellent receptions in a losing effort for the Chery Tiggo.

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