Cool Smashers repel Water Defenders, near PVL final

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Rosemarie Vargas hammered in power hits to crush BaliPure’s net defense in the decider as Creamline pounded out a 25-19, 13-25, 28-26, 18-25, 15-7 decision to zero in on the first finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Saturday.

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Vargas pumped in seven of her 19 points in the fifth set, including five off-the-block hits, as the former FEU Lady Tam practically mocked the Water Defenders with her awesome power to give the Cool Smashers the head-start in their best-of-three semifinal series.

Creamline’s Rizza Mandapat delivers a hit against BaliPure’s Jerrili Malabanan and Risa Sato during their PVL Open Conference semis duel on Saturday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

“Coming off a fourth set loss, we thought of stepping up in the fifth. We were able to communicate and everybody contributed,” said Vargas.

The victory thus stretched Creamline’s win run to eight after sweeping the eight-team elims of the mid-season conference organized by Sports Vision. And the Cool Smashers did it despite the continued absence of ace hitter Alyssa Valdez.

After getting the green light from national team officials allowing Valdez to play for her mother club, team management decided to give the former two-time league MVP the rest she deserves following a grueling 17-day training with the national team in the Japan. They later added that Creamline will play without the former Ateneo star the rest of the conference.

Sans Valdez, Vargas and the rest of the Cool Smashers proved they can handle the pressure and overcome the odds, saving four match points in the third to steal the frame and then rebounding from a lopsided loss in the fourth with a dominant showing in the decider.

Vargas stood out in that emphatic stretch, firing away power-packed spikes that the Water Defenders had failed to neutralize, including one that hit the arms of Aiko Urdas and recoiled to Risa Sato’s face that made it 7-1.

Veteran Pau Soriano then took over at endgame, blocking BaliPure’s top hitter Grethcel Soltones twice to give Creamline a 12-4 lead and then finishing off the Water Defenders with a blast over two defenders at center. The former Adamson standout finished with 18 points.

Creamline shoots for the championship berth in Game 2 at 6:30 tonight.

Earlier, Mega Builders and Cignal TV toppled their respective rivals to move closer to forging a duel for the men’s crown in the mid-season conference of the country’s premier league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.

The Volley Bolt got back at the Air Force Jet Spikers, fighting back from two sets down and hacking out a 19-25, 16-25, 25-20, 26-24, 15-10 decision, while the HD Spikers thwarted the Sta. Elena side, 25-16, 25-16, 20-25, 25-18, at the start of their respective best-of-three series.

Bryan Bagunas fired 20 hits, Francis Saura came away with 18 markers while Fauzi Ismail and Kim Malabunga combined for 26 points as Mega Builders resumed their winning ways after being foiled by the Jet Spikers in their final game in the elims and missed sweeping the elims on their maiden stint in the league.

Mega Builders and Cignal TV go for the clinchers at the resumption of their series today (Sunday) starting at 10 a.m.

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