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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Cool Smashers closing in on semis via rout of Army

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CREAMLINE smashed its way past a hapless Army side, 25-15, 25-20, 25-12, to move a win away from formalizing its stint in post-eliminations play of the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference at the PhilsSports Arena in Pasig City on Tuesday.

Save for an early challenge from a game Army, it was all-Creamline show with head coach Sherwin Meneses having the luxury of fielding his other players for the needed confidence-boost in preparation for a wild stretch run in the single round eliminations with six teams all in the hunt for the four berths in the next round.

But with a 5-1 win-loss card, the Creamline looks a cinch to nail one of the coveted slots against either a surging PLDT next Tuesday or a struggling Akari on March 14.

Army dropped to 0-5.

While starters Tots Carlos and Michele Gumabao still led the assault with 17 and 11 points, respectively, Rose Vargas came away with seven points, middle Risa Sato scored five points and Rizza Mandapat and Pau Soriano had three and two points, respectively, for the defending champions, who came up with 42 attack points against the Lady Troopers’ 29.

They also pounced on their rivals’ erratic service reception and scored 10 aces, including four from Vargas and drew 19 points from the Lady Troopers’ 19 unforced errors while giving up 10 of their own.

Honey Royse Tubino fired 12 points while Lut Malaluan, Nene Bautista and Jeanette Villareal combined for 18 points. But after battling their fancied rivals in the first 12 minutes marred by mishits and miscues, the Lady Troopers lost steam and failed to measure up with the Cool Smashers’ power game and hustle plays.

“The stringers had the opportunity to play,” Meneses said. “The stringers train the same way as the starters so they know how to rise to the occasion.”

Already without ace Alyssa Valdez, who is still recuperating from an injury, Creamline also played without heavy-hitting Jema Galanza, who was under the weather.

“I feel good since we really wanted to win while letting my other teammates play,” said Carlos, who clinched the game’s top individual honors. “It’s very fulfilling seeing them play.”

The Cool Smashers will take a week-long break before resuming their hunt for the all-important win against a hot-charging High Speed Hitters.

After dropping a tough five-set setback to F2 Logistics last Feb. 7, PLDT swept its next three matches to wheel back into strong contention with the High Speed Hitters looking to extend their run against the Akari Chargers at presstime.

Meneses, meanwhile, looks forward to drawing more big games from his bench.

The Lady Troopers actually took control early on Tubino and Bautista’s power hits that shoved them to leads of 9-6 and 13-11 as Meneses tried out new combinations.

Vargas quickly delivered, scoring on a kill and, coupled with the team’s successful challenge that tied the count at 13, the Cool Smashers regained the lead on a Gumabao block on Tubino.

But Tubino countered with a drop ball and an off-the-block hit to put Army back on top at 15-14. But Ivy Perez served long and the Cool Smashers took the cue and swept the next 10 points to clinch the frame, anchored on Carlos and Gumabao’s attacks, a Pangs Panaga power tip and a couple of Army unforced errors.

Vargas also blasted in two aces that sandwiched Gumabao’s kill block for Creamline’s last three points in that decisive closing run.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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