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Creamline survives another five-setter, nears finals berth

Defending champion Creamline relied on usual suspects Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez and Jema Galanza to outlast Cignal, 23-25, 25-16, 25-21, 24-26, 15-10, in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference semifinal Saturday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The trio punched in double-figure scoring to keep the Cool Smashers’ unbeaten run intact and improve to a 3-0 win-loss semifinals carryover record.

Reigning conference Most Valuable Player Carlos waxed-hot with 27 points including 25 off hits while Valdez sustained her fine form after coming off a right knee injury that sidelined her for six months with a personal tournament-high 22 markers she collected from 18 kills, two aces and two kill blocks.

Galanza, on the other hand, filled the stat sheets with 21 points, 17 digs and eight excellent receptions for Creamline, which came through a second straight five-set decision after outplaying F2 Logistics last Thursday to remain unscathed after six games in the mid-season tournament.

A crucial net touch challenge that favored Creamline proved to be the turning point in the fifth set that stopped Cignal’s fightback from 5-9 down. From there Galanza, Carlos and Valdez took over to secure the win.

“Creamline is a already proven in five setters. Whatever the result is, they’ll just play their game. But the good thing, we won for the second time,” Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses said as his wards spoiled Ces Molina’s 28-point performance.

“We’re happy because, actually, we’re moving closer to a situation where we’re getting closer to the finals,” Meneses added.

Top setter Jia Morado-De Guzman dished out 33 excellent sets that  Creamline converted to 69 attack points on top of three markers – all from the service line.

The Cool Smashers had a chance to close out the match in the fourth frame but the HD Spikers exploited Creamline sitting out Carlos and Morado for Michel Gumabao and Kyle Negrito to spark a 4-1 run to break a 20-20 tie to move at set point.

Meneses brought back his starters to save three set points only to fall short.

Cignal threatened to tie the fifth set at 9-all but Roselyn Doria’s block on Valdez was nullified after Creamline made a successful net touch challenge.

Jovelyn Gonzaga trimmed the HD Spikers’ deficit to 13-10 but Carlos scored on a cross before Valdez’s finishing blow.

Rachel Anne Daquis had 14 points, Riri Meneses got 12 while Gonzaga got 11 for Cignal, which slid to a 1-2 slate tied with F2 Logistics and PLDT.

The HD Spikers battle Kurashiki Ablaze of Japan on Monday while the Cool Smashers get a well-deserved two-day rest before facing Vietnamese club Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh on Tuesday.

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