Jema Galanza starred as she keyed a decisive run in the fourth set that propelled the Creamline Cool Smashers to a 25-18, 15-25, 25-23, 25-16 win over the Petro Gazz Angels to claim the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference crown at the Ynares Center on Friday night.
Galanza was responsible for three crucial points that helped Creamline put some distance them and Petro Gazz. The Cool Smashers was ahead by just one, 10-9, when Galanza sparked her team, pushing them ahead, 17-11. That set the stage for Creamline star Alyssa Valdez to put the game away with her vaunted power blasts and an ace before Jia de Guzman and Celine Domingo capped their romp on a quick play.
As De Guzman fell on the floor and the Cool Smashers whooped it up before a raucous crowd of over 7,000, confetti rained down the court, marking the return of the Cool Smashers to the volleyball throne.
“It’s worth all the sacrifices after we came up short the first time out,” said Galanza, referring to their setback to the Chery Tiggo Crossovers in the league’s pro inaugurals in Ilocos Norte last August where they won the series opener but dropped the next two.
Galanza finished with 17 points, all on attacks.
“It’s all mental toughness and the strategies that we made,” said Valdez, whose own three-point binge late in the frame put the team at match point. She went on to bag the Finals MVP honors, her first in PVL era, following a top-scoring 20-point effort she laced with three blocks.
The one-hour, 41-minute victory thus completed the crowd favorites’ eight-game sweep of the tournament, including a three-game romp in the group prelims, a lopsided win over PLDT in the quarters and a two-game domination of sister team Choco Mucho in the Final Four.
They needed four sets and a lot of patience and breaks before squeezing out a 25-16, 23-25, 25-12, 32-30 victory over the plucky Angels in Game One of the best-of-three finals at the MOA Arena in Pasay last Wednesday.
The title sweep likewise made up for the team’s failed bid to become the first winner of the league’s pro tournament. But they toughened up during the off-season, keeping the team intact while adding a player or two to further bolster their drive in the tournament that had to be compacted into a four-week tourney to give way for the national team’s preparation for next month’s Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, the core of which are mainstays of the league.
The championship was Creamline’s fourth in six straight finals appearances, including three in the league’s centerpiece event.
Cignal HD, meanwhile, clinched third place honors after getting back at Choco Mucho, 25-18, 27-25, 22-25, 25-17, earlier as the HD Spikers edged the Flying Titans, 185-181, in the tiebreak.
Choco Mucho beat Cignal, also in four, 25-17, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22, in Game One at the MOA Arena last Wednesday.
Creamline ace Tots Carlos earlier took the MVP title after a sustained power-packed performance in the compressed tournament where she normed 20.67 points before the finals.