Creamline geared up for its keenly awaited face-off with Pocari Sweat with a 25-16, 9-25, 17-25, 25-13, 15-13 win over Perlas late Saturday, matching the Lady Warriors’ scrambling victory over Air Force at the start of the quarterfinal round of the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Alyssa Valdez came through with back-to-back kills to shatter the 13-all count in the decider and save the day for the Cool Smashers, who blew a 12-8 lead on miscues and wobbly defense that enabled the Perlas Spikers to claw back and force a tie.
Earlier, the defending champion Lady Warriors also rallied from 1-2 set down to repulse the Jet Spikers, 21-25, 25-23, 19-25, 25-14, 15-10, as the two fancied teams lined themselves up for crack at the last two semifinal berths in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.
They will virtually dispute the third slot tomorrow at 4 p.m. with no team holding a distinct advantage after they split their meetings in the double-round elims via the same fashion. Pocari downed Creamline, 15-25, 25-18, 26-24, 25-19, last May 11 but the latter struck back with a 21-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-13 romp last May 20.
That should guarantee a no-holds-barred contest in their third meeting tomorrow although the Cool Smashers will have a slight edge following the sidelining of Pocari’s other import Edina Selimovic due to hamstring tear.
But local ace Myla Pablo returned from a two-game absence due to back injury with an imposing 28-hit effort with the former National U star expected to get better and tougher in their next games.
Michelle Strizak, who produced a tournament-best 40 hits in their losing stand to the Jet Spikers at the close of the elims last Thursday, also continued to dish out big games along with Jeanette Panaga, Siemens Dadang, Jessey de Leon, Maricar Nepomuceno and setter Gyzelle Sy.
That should put them in good stead as they slug it out with Valdez and the rest of the Cool Smashers, who had a rollercoaster campaign in the elims and would need to play consistent games from start to finish to realize a dream semis stint.
Valdez wound up with 21 hits against Perlas with the equally power-hitting Thai reinforcement Kuttika Kaewpin backing her up with 19 markers while other import Laura Schaudt provided an intimidating presence on the net with four block points before finishing with eight markers.
It was a sorry setback for Perlas, which had appeared to get Creamline’s numbers by taking a 2-1 set lead but whose charge fizzled out in the face of the Cool Smashers strong finishing kick.
Meanwhile, Perlas and Air Force also brace for a crucial match at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow, a virtual knockout duel with the winner staying in the hunt for the last semis seat.
BaliPure and the Power Smashers advanced to the semis outright by topping the double-round elims.