Stung by a second set rout, Creamline firmed up its service reception in the last two frames and scrambled past a young but tough Akari-Adamson side, 25-17, 18-25, 25-15, 25-22, to seize the early lead in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
Recent Reinforced Conference MVP Alyssa Valdez and Rosemarie Vargas fired 18 markers as the Cool Smashers came back strong from a second set slide, exploiting their edge upfront on better first-ball receives while foiling the Lady Falcons’ attacks with superb floor defense and digs to fashion out the hard-earned victory.
But the win didn’t come easy for the Cool Smashers, composed of former collegiate stars who needed to recover and regroup to frustrate their youthful rivals bracing for the UAAP wars in the tournament which kicked off the mid-season conference of the country’s premier women’s volley league organized by Sports Vision.
“We had to work on our service receives in the last two sets to set up our attacks,” said Vargas, who later went on to bag the game’s top honors.
After being outplayed in the opening frame, the Akari-backed Lady Falcons put up one big stand in the second, rallying from an early 3-7 deficits and battling their fancied rivals in a back-and-forth duel midway in the set before unleashing a strong finishing kick anchored on Jessica Galanza.
After grabbing the lead for the second time, 18-17, on a Valdez service error, the Lady Falcons leaned on the power-hitting Galanza, who scored on back-to-back spikes as Adamson took five of the last six points to steal the set from the recent Reinforced Conference third placers.
But Creamline, with former Ateneo star playmaker Jia Morado doing what she does best, dominated the third although they had to go through some anxious moments to complete the four-set victory.
The Cool Smashers raced to a 20-16 lead in the fourth but the Lady Falcons refused to give up and kept on coming back, the last at 22-23 on an Ivy Remulla service miscue. But Vargas scored on a baseline hit and the Cool Smashers stole the next point, the set and the match after Adamson’s last spike slammed into the net and went out although it looked like it hit one of Creamline defenders’ hand before going out of bounds.
Despite the setback, the Lady Falcons proved their mettle with Galanza showing she can mix it up with the league’s top hitters and the rest of the team flashing a big fighting heart to give their fancied rivals a big scare.
Earlier, newcomer Megabuilders posted an early reversal in the men’s side of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics as it upended Army in a thrilling five-setter, 25-22, 19-25 23-25, 25-22, 20-18.
Titleholder Air Force warded off Gamboa Coffee Mix third set fightback and hacked out a 25-19, 25-10, 28-26 victory to share the early lead with Megabuilders.
Meanwhile, action resumes today (Sunday) with Pocari Sweat kicking off its drive for a fourth straight championship against University of the Philippines at 4 p.m.
BaliPure, which lost the Reinforced Conference title to Pocari two weeks ago, opens its own campaign against the Power Smashers at 6:30 p.m. Both matches will be shown live on Sports+Action Channel 23.
In men’s action, Reinforced Conference titlist Cignal battles Café Lupe at 10 a.m. while Instituto Estetico Manila and Sta. Elena collide at 1 p.m. which can be viewed via livestream on www.sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/pvl.Games today