By Kristel Satumbaga
(The Arena, San Juan City)
2 p.m. – BaliPure vs Choco Mucho
4 p.m. – Creamline vs Motolite
6 p.m. – BanKo-Perlas vs Pacifictown Army
Aerial combat against Creamline proved too much even for Air Force.
Creamline displayed offensive strength in dumping Air Force, 25-23, 25-20, 25-15, on Sunday to jumpstart its title-retention campaign in the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
Eyeing a third crown overall, the Cool Smashers survived an opening-set challenge before dominating the next two frames.
Michele Gumabao fired all of her 14 points on attacks while Alyssa Valdez chipped in 13 points built on 10 spikes, two aces and one block to spearhead Creamline, which also spoiled Air Force’s comeback from a short hiatus.
“It was a slow start for us. The pace was not our usual, but we tried to correct the mistakes we made in the first set and focused on our game (to recover),” said Gumabao.
The returning Air Force let loose rocket fire in the first set, attacking the net with jarring spikes led by Dell Palomata, sending Creamline scrambling for cover in a maze of errors.
But a quick adjustment by the Cool Smashers that saw Kyle Negrito setting for most parts of the frame was all it took as the Lady Jet Spikers lost their steam in the third set, trailing, 13-7, and never recovering.
Risa Sato also spelled the difference for Creamline with 11 points while Jema Galanza added nine points.
Dell Palomata and May Ann Pantino scored 14 and 10 points for Air Force, which was overpowered on attacks (48-38) and service aces (6-1).
But BanKo-Perlas pulled off a big 25-20, 11-25, 25-21, 25-18 victory over PetroGazz later in the day, pouncing on the recent Reinforced Conference champions’ service errors in the pivotal third set then out-hitting them late in the fourth to complete the reversal for an early share of the lead with Creamline.
The Perlas Spikers, who lost steam against the PacificTown Army Lady Troopers in their duel for third in the first conference, out-steadied the Angels in the opening frame then bounced back from a lopsided second set setback by scoring 14 points off their rivals miscues in the third.
They trailed early in the fourth but unleashed a strong finishing kick anchored on Dzi Gervacio, Jem Ferrer, Nicole Tiamzon, Kathy Bersola and Ella de Jesus to frustrate the Angels, led by Cherry Nunag and Jeanette Panaga, who surprised the Cool Smashers to clinch their maiden PVL crown last month.