More than the second straight PVL Open championship, a fired-up Creamline side will be driven by its desire to set a record that could be tough to match when the Cool Smashers face the embattled PetroGazz Angels in Game Two of the Finals at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today (Saturday).
A win away from completing a grand 20-game sweep of the tournament, expect the defending champions to pour it all out in their 6 p.m. clash and outdo themselves to better what was already an impressive performance in the opener of their best-of-three series that saw them dominate the Angels in the opening frame, rally from a huge deficit in the second set before outlasting their Reinforced Conference tormentors in the third to fashion out a 25-14, 25-22, 27-25 victory last Wednesday.
Game Three, if necessary, will be played next Wednesday.
“This is the Finals. We expect nothing but an all-out game from both sides,” said Alyssa Valdez, who dished out the game expected of her in powering the Cool Smashers to that straight-set romp. The former Ateneo superstar blasted in 17 kills and added two aces and drew solid backup from Jema Galanza (15 hits) and Michele Gumabao (10 points) in offense with Risa Sato and Celine Domingo taking care of the middle to produce five points apiece.
Ace playmaker Jia Morado anchored Creamline’s offense with 21 excellent sets, completely dominating PetroGazz counterpart Chie Saet, who made only eight excellent sets as the Cool Smashers also banked on their strong serves to disrupt the Angels’ play patterns.
Coming into the title series, the Angels are billed as the league’s best receiving team. But they came up short against a side that boasts of a slew of power hitters and which stepped up on the service plate.
“Since PetroGaz is the No. 1 team in receive, coach Tai (Bundit) wants us to come up with strong serves,” said Galanza.
Though the Cool Smashers scored just three aces out of 75 service attempts, their service game unsettled the flow of the Angels’ offense with middles Jeanette Panaga and Cherry Nunag struggling on their quick plays and finishing with just a combined nine-point output.
But for sure, PetroGazz coach Arnold Laniog and the Angels will come up with key adjustments, particularly in keeping their composure in nerve-wracking situations, including in long exchanges which the Cool Smashers virtually dominated with their counter-attacks in Game One.
Not just to equalize, but also to keep their own drive for a sweep of the two conference crowns over the same set of rivals.