Expect fireworks to erupt as Creamline and PetroGazz slug it out in Game One of the PVL Open Conference today with the powerhouse Cool Smashers seeking not only to complete a grand sweep but also a payback and the fired-up Angels out to frustrate their fancied rivals for the second straight conference.
The 6 p.m. clash at The Arena in San Juan City will be a duel of offense versus defense. The Cool Smashers swept the double round elims by dominating three skills categories, including in attacks with a 34.36 percent success rate. They also delivered a league-best 2.19 aces per set and emerged No. 1 in setting with norms of 6.81 excellent sets per frame behind Jia Morado and Kyle Negrito.
But the Angels, who lost Game One but swept the Cool Smashers in the next two to snare the Reinforced Conference crown last July, are the best in defense, averaging 2.21 kill blocks per set. PetroGazz was also tops in service reception with a 44.77 percent efficiency rate, guaranteeing a slam-bang action right at the start of their best-of-three series tipped to go down-to-the-wire.
Meanwhile, BanKo-Perlas and Motolite tangle in their best-of-three battle for third at 4 p.m.
The long break should’ve given both teams ample time to polish their respective play patterns and toughen up on their reception and defensive plays with coaches Tai Bundit of Creamline and Arnold Laniog of PetroGazz also expected to spring a surprise or two in terms of rotation to startle the other team’s defensive set-up and at the same time help fuel their respective title drives.
But Creamline looks stronger, tougher on paper with the likes of national team mainstays Alyssa Valdez and Morado, Michele Gumabao, Jema Galanza, Pau Soriano, Celine Domingo, Rosemarie Vargas, Risa Sato and Negrito along with liberos Melissa Gohing and Kyle Atienza raring to impose their strength and get back at the very team which spoiled their title-retention bid in the Reinforced tourney.
After sweeping the elims that saw them drop just five sets, the Cool Smashers crushed the Motolite side in their semis face-off to stretch their record win run to 18 with an eye of completing a first-ever 20-game sweep for a championship.
But the Angels, who eased out the BanKo Perlas Spikers in their Final Four clash, remain unfazed by their rivals’ power and record with Laniog confident to draw the best from the likes of the Jonah Sabete, Jovie Prado, Cherry Nunag, Paneng Mercado, Jeanette Panaga, Cai Baloaloa, Alyssa Layug, Djanel Cheng, Relea Saet, Rica Enclona and Cienne Cruz, who are all ready and itching to deliver another blow to Creamline’s title-retention drive the second time around.