MANILA, Philippines — Creamline avoided a collapse, scraping past winless but stubborn United Auctioneers Inc.-Army, 25-12, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, in the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Setter Jia De Guzman kept the Cool Smashers afloat with her brilliant playmaking, dishing out 23 excellent sets that went with three aces.
Turkish import Yeliz Basa and Celine Domingo led Creamline in scoring with 18 and 16 points, respectively while Jema Galanza added 14 coupled with her tremendous defensive effort of 23 excellent receptions and 11 digs.
Alyssa Valdez only saw limited action and finished with five points.
Tots Carlos came to the rescue for semis-bound Creamline in the fourth when coach Sherwin Meneses opted to go for an all-Filipino with Army able to check Basa and grab a 9-2 start in the set.
The two-time PVL MVP stepped up and poured in most of her seven points in the fourth frame, helping the Cool Smashers avoid a deciding fifth set.
“It was an All-Filipino lineup in the fourth set. Coach didn’t tell us anything because we’ve been together for almost how many years. I am almost two years with this team. So we only needed to execute the things that our coach taught us,” said Carlos in Filipino after Creamline (6-1) bounced back from a five-set meltdown against F2 Logistics on Tuesday.
“He just reminded us when we forget some things like in terms of positioning in attacks.”
Carlos and Galanza joined hands to pull away in the fourth as De Guzman nailed an ace to cap their six straight points for a 19-14 spread. The University of the Philippines standout stretched Creamline’s lead to 21-17 but Valdez’s back-to-back errors followed by a pair of clutch kills from Laura Condotta put Army on top, 22-21.
Carlos stopped the bleeding but Condotta kept the Lady Troopers ahead, 23-22. Domingo tied the set with a quick hit before the Canadian import of Army committed an attack error. Galanza drilled the match-clinching kill to end the two-hour match.
Meneses knew that his all-Filipino lineup can close out the game with their fruitful experiences from the AVC Cup and Asean Grand Prix.
“I trust my players. We all know that imports are always number one in a team’s system. But our team with import or without import, they will deliver because all of them are working hard in practice. We’re lucky with the solid team chemistry we formed and it has been working for us, especially at the crucial point,” said Meneses in Filipino.
The Cool Smashers lost steam after dominating the first two sets as they failed to complete a comeback from a 23-19 deficit in the third set.
Condotta carried Army with 20 points, 13 digs, and seven receptions. Nene Bautista and Jovelyn Gonzaga had 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
Royse Tubino missed the game due to personal matters as the also-ran Lady Troopers fell to 0-6, suffering their 12th straight loss dating back to the last elimination game in the Invitational Conference.
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