CREAMLINE imposed its will on Petro Gazz with a classic 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-15 victory in Game 3 of their championship series for the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino crown on Thursday night.
Match over, trophy’s tucked away and it’s time to celebrate.
“We just want to celebrate,” said Tots Carlos as she held in her arms the Most Valuable Player jewel, her third after the Open and Invitational conferences last year.
The former UP stalwart emerged the leading scorer after the semis with 152 points, built on 136 spikes, five blocks and 11 aces. She normed 17.6 points in the title series, including 16 in Game 3.
“This MVP trophy ranks second to my goal, our goal—and that’s to win the championship,” said Carlos after the Cool Smashers’ title-clinching victory witnessed by a crowd of more than 12,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
They’re on track for another crack at a grand slam, but after hurdling perhaps the biggest stumbling block to the Cool Smashers’ back-breaking mission, things look a lot enthusing for them this time around.
They fell a title short of completing a first-ever sweep of three PVL jewels in a season after ruling the Open and Invitational conferences last year—they failed to even make it past the semifinals of the Reinforced Conference.
They did beat the Chery Tiggo Crossovers—their 2019 Open Conference Finals tormentors—in the battle for the bronze, but lost skipper and leader Alyssa Valdez to injury.
That forced the many-time conference MVP and team leader to miss the entire All Filipino Conference.
But the talent-laden Cool Smashers proved more than up to the task by topping the eliminations, sweeping the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in the semifinals and then overcoming Petro Gazz’s Game 1 win in the finals.
Head coach Sherwin Meneses and his Cool Smashers are certainly not in a hurry to plot their next mission—the Invitational set next month and the season-ending Reinforced Conference later in the year.
Playmaker Jia de Guzman, who produced 18 excellent sets in the sudden death Game 3—doubling counterpart’s Djanel Cheng’s effort to clinch the Finals MVP honors—credited their successful drive to their sacrifices and hard work.
“What we went through to get this championship wasn’t easy at all,” she said. “It’s all about hard work, to think that we only got a day to regroup in between the three matches in the finals.”
Valdez is expected to be back in the summer, thus, making the Cool Smashers all the more formidable.
The Cool Smashers would have toughened up even more by next month, guaranteeing another highly-charged battle that has marked the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
Carlos and de Guzman also led teammates Jema Galanza (best outside spiker) and Michele Gumabao (best opposite spiker) in the elite Premier Team, along with MJ Phillips (best middle blocker) of Petro Gazz and Kath Arado (best digger) of PLDT.
Galanza, on the other hand, anchored Creamline’s roaring finish as she kept on pounding on every opportunity to finish with 19 points while Gumabao capped her conference-long brilliance with 18 points and Ced Domingo and Risa Sato added 12 and six points, respectively.
“I really wanted to win, that’s all,” Galanza said. “All I had in mind was to hit that ball to the other side.”
After the grueling but highly rewarding campaign, the Cool Smashers want to relish their latest triumph, the franchise’s sixth championship since 2018, that also erased the stigma of their failed bid in the last Reinforced Conference.
“I am extremely happy after having gone through perhaps the most exhausting finals campaign that we had,” Galanza said.