Cool Smashers, HD Spikers collide in key duel; Japan clashes with Vietnam


MOMENTS after Creamline faced its sternest test in a long while and survived a rare five-set grind, coach Sherwin Meneses said Cignal is the least of their worries, expressing concerns more on his wards’ ability to recover from a grueling match than plotting their next move against the surging HD Spikers.

“Saka na namin po-problemahin ang Cignal,” said Menenes in jest after rallying the Cool Smashers past the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, 12-25, 25-15, 23-25, 30-28, 15-7, in a highly-charged duel at the start of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference semifinal round at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City late Thursday.

The win put the defending champions ahead of the six-team field, reinforced by two foreign squads from Japan and Vietnam, with a 2-0 slate, just ahead of Cignal, which tied F2 Logistics at 1-1 after trouncing PLDT, 25-22, 25-15, 25-21, in the other semis encounter.

While Creamline stretched its win run to five, including its sweep of the five-team Pool A elims, Cignal racked up four straight victories in 3-0 fashions since dropping a four-setter to F2 Logistics last July 1, most impressively its one-hour, 33-minute demolition of PLDT last Thursday.

That makes the Creamline-Cignal face-off at 4 p.m. a match to watch with the HD Spikers confronting their biggest challenge in pursuit of a key victory in a tight, mad race to the finals of the mid-season offering of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by BingoPlus, ArenaPlus, Mikasa, SMART, Rebisco, Kumu, Asics and SportRadar.

“Sobrang bilis ng liga so there’s no time to prepare, laban talaga lahat,” added Meneses, whose wards’ title-retention drive got a big boost with skipper and leader Alyssa Valdez back in tip-top form after being sidelined by a knee injury late last year.

Valdez unleashed a 17-point game, including clutch hits against the Cargo Movers, with the multi-titled hitter expecting to get better as the battle for the finals slots heats up.

“I am just inspired to keep on going because of my teammates’ support,” said Valdez. “Every win (in the semis) is important for us to reach our goal.”

The former Ateneo star said they hoped to learn a lot from their squeaker over the Cargo Movers, stressing: “This is the our first five-set game, we hope to learn so much from this and we’re all setting out minds for our next game(s).”

“Actually yung mga games, mahirap mag-prepare kasi one-day lang ang pagitan. Ire-rest mo pa ang katawan mo bago mo aralin ang mga kalaban,” said Meneses.

But the local teams will have the chance to at least scout and prepare for the guest teams as the Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh Women’s of Vietnam and Japan’s Kurashiki Ablaze tangle in the 6:30 p.m. main game of another four-game bill.

Chery Tiggo and Choco Mucho dispute seventh place at 9 a.m. while F2 Logistics and PLDT try to recover lost grounds at each other’s expense as they collide at 11:30 a.m.

The Japanese and the Vietnamese hope to raise the bar with their brand of play with the former topping the 12th national volley league and placing third in the 13th national league grand championship match back home.

The Kinh Bac-Bac Ninh Women’s, on the other hand, finished third twice in their national championship which they ruled in 2018.
Games are aired on, One Sports, and One Sports+ with live streaming on Smart Livestream, Cignal Play and Pilipinas Live.

Read full article on BusinessMirror