BaliPure dominated Creamline with its power game, solid blocking and superb coverage and fashioned out an emphatic 25-18, 25-13, 25-16 victory yesterday to clinch the first finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Thursday.
Bracing for a dogfight, the Water Defenders ended up with a lopsided triumph instead as they imposed their will on the net early, put up a defensive wall upfront then pounced on every Creamline miscue and mishit to complete the surprise straight-set win in the decider of their best-of-three semifinal series.
Grethcel Soltones and American Jennifer Keddy fired 13 hits piece, Thai veteran Jeng Bualee and Risa Sato delivered 10 points each while Jasmine Nabor finished with 24 excellent sets while dishing out five hits, the last a reverse drop shot to Creamline’s unguarded spot in the middle that ended the 68-minute encounter that lacked the thrill and excitement of their first two face-offs.
“We applied the pressure early and took it from there,” said Soltones, who had 11 attack points for the Water Defenders, who rebounded from a five-set loss in Game 2 that forced the rubber match.
“I just did what I was supposed to do and tried to inspire the rest of the team,” added the many-time NCAA MVP.
BaliPure will take on the winner of the other semis duel between Pocari Sweat and the Power Smashers in the final, another best-of-three affair, tomorrow.
Creamline never recovered from a listless start and struggled the rest of the way although Thai reinforcement Kuttika Kaewpin and local ace Alyssa Valdez tried to rally the Cool Smashers in the third frame to no avail.
Kaewpin finished with 14 hits while Valdez added 13. Laura Schaudt groped for form and ended up with just five hits.
BaliPure produced 41 spikes, 11 more than Creamline while coming through with seven blocks against the Cool Smashers’ two. The Water Defenders also cashed in on their rivals’ poor service reception and came away with eight aces.
After a breeze in the opener, the Water Defenders also dominated the next, racing to a 17-11 lead then taking eight of the last 10 points. It was more of the same in the third with players alternating with their power hits and blocks to steer BaliPure to a 21-11 bulge.
The Cool Smashers, behind Kuttika and Valdez, made one last stand with a four-hit string to move within six but the Water Defenders came up with a block, an off-the-block hit and moved to match point on a Creamline error before Soltones finished off their rivals on the second ball.
Earlier, top seed Air Force and No. 2 Cignal HD completed their fightbacks from 0-1 down to arrange a showdown for the men’s crown in the league backed by Mikasa and Asics.
The Jet Spikers battled back from two-set down and frustrated the Army Troopers, 24-26, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 15-9, while the HD Spikers held off the Sta. Elena Wrecking Balls, 27-25, 24-26, 25-16, 26-24, in a pair of rubber matches.