(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2:30 p.m. — Creamline vs Cignal
5:30 p.m. — Chery Tiggo vs Petro Gazz
A solid Creamline crew and a surging Cignal side set out for a prime matchup today (Sunday) for a clear shot at a championship berth even as Chery Tiggo and Petro Gazz try to stave off elimination in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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Watch last game: Creamline vs. Cignal highlights | 2022 PVL Reinforced Conference – Oct. 22, 2022
The Cool Smashers and the HD Spikers fashioned out a pair of straight-set victories over the Petro Gazz Angels and the Chery Tiggo Crossovers, respectively, at the start of the round robin semis Thursday, making their 2:30 p.m. face-off so crucial to their respective title drive in the season-ending conference organized by Sports Vision.
Creamline does have the slight edge – manpower, cohesion and championship experience with the Cool Smashers, reaching peak form, all primed for a record grand slam after sweeping the Open Conference and Invitational crowns.
But Cignal is so hungry and resolved to stake its claim not just as a worthy title contender but a deserving champion although the HD Spikers must outdo themselves to put one over their fancied rivals.
Cignal did upend Creamline, 3-1, in the Invitational prelims last July 21 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, but the Cool Smashers got back at them in the semis, 3-0, last Aug. 8 at the MOA Arena on their way to nailing the second of two championships.
But what makes the crowd favorites more daunting heading to today’s key match is that they are coming off their first three-set victory following a virtual struggle in the elims where they were dragged into four-set duels in seven matches, including a 25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-12 win over the HD Spikers last Oct. 22.
They lost a five-set battle to the F2 Logistics last Nov. 8, ironically after winning the first two sets.
But the Cool Smashers have recovered from that stumble since and their romp over their 2019 title conquerors more than underscored their readiness to dominate this phase for a crack at a dream grand slam.
Coach Sherwin Meneses, however, has opted to downplay his wards’ strength and chances, saying: “It will still depend on how we will perform against them.”
But import Yeliz Basa and locals Alyssa Valdez, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Ced Domingo, Pangs Pineda, Kyla Atienza and playmaker Jia de Guzman have been executing their plays with clockwork precision with the likes of Michele Gumabao, Fille Cayetano, Rose Vargas and Kyla Negrito consistently delivering coming off the bench.
The No. 4 HD Spikers, however, have matched the top-ranked Cool Smashers’ three-game run, with Tai Bierria finally unleashing her fierce form and locals Ces Molina, Rachel Anne Daquis, Roselyn Doria, Angeli Araneta, Riri Meneses, Chay Troncoso, Faith General and ace setter Gel Cayuna providing the backup their import needs the way they did in toppling the second-seeded Crossovers.
Meanwhile, Petro Gazz and Chery Tiggo clash in a knockout match at 5:30 p.m. with the winner catching the loser in the Creamline-Cignal duel and staying in the finals hunt.
The last semis playdate pits Creamline versus Chery Tiggo and Cignal against Petro Gazz back at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Tuesday.
Games are aired on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play and Smart Gigaplay