Alyssa Valdez upstaged Myla Pablo in a clash of power hitters and Creamline clipped Pocari Sweat, 25-15, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19, in a duel of unbeaten teams as the Cool Smashers wrested the solo lead in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan on Saturday.
The Cool Smashers charged back late coming off a lopsided setback in the second set, taking the third and fourth sets – and the match that bolstered their semifinal drive in the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision on a fourth straight victory.
Valdez delivered as promised, hammering in 27 attack points while outhitting Pablo on the other end in the hyped-up face-off of the league’s top spikers. The former Ateneo star also scored three aces and flashed her defensive prowess with 16 digs.
But Valdez credited her teammates and ace setter Jia Morado for the victory that also served as a fitting sendoff to Creamline’s star player who will be joining the national team in its Japan as part of the latter’s buildup for next month’s SEA Games.
“My teammates refused to be intimidated and all stepped up through Jia,” said Valdez. “But hands-off also to Pocari, especially to (ate) Myla as they gave it their all.”
Truly, after Valdez helped rally the team from a shaky start in the fourth to pull within 16-17, Rosemary Vargas, Chesca Racraquin and Pau Soriano, aided by the Lady Warriors’ attack errors, took nine of the last 11 points to pound out the victory that moved them a win from advancing to the Final Four of the tournament backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Racraquin and Vargas scored on a pair of off-the-block hits to shove Creamline to an 18-17 lead then after the two teams traded points, Vargas unleashed a down-the-line hit, Soriano scored on a quick attack and the Cool Smashers pulled away on their rivals’ attack errors, including two from Pablo.
Soriano, the former Adamson star, capped her game-long brilliance with a kill block off Pablo.
The former National U star finished with 26 hits but faded in the stretch, including an attack error that put Creamline at match point and a failed bid against Soriano as the Lady Warriors dropped to 3-1.
Soriano finished with 15 hits, Vargas had 10 markers while veteran Ivy Remulla also chipped in seven points.
“Everybody contributed because they knew they need to help Alyssa,” said Creamline assistant coach Oliver Almadro.
Earlier, newcomer Mega Builders regained the solo lead in men’s division, beating Instituto Estetico Manila, 25-14, 25-20, 25-19, to stretch its win run to four while Air Force improved to 3-1 with a 24-26, 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 victory over Café Lupe.