Creamline capped a gripping weekend of five-setters, battling back from two sets down to unmask PLDT Home Fibr, 22-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 15-12, and wrest the solo lead in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference at the Ynares Center in Antipolo last night.
Tots Carlos uncorked a variety of shots - from her vaunted stinging kills, off-speed, and drop shots to finish with another top-scoring 22 points following a 24-point explosion against the Army Lady Troopers the last time out. But it was her block off Chin Basas that finished off the High Speed Hitters and powered the Cool Smashers past their victims in the standings with a 2-0 slate.
PLDT slipped to 2-1, looking forward to recover against KingWhale of Taiwan tomorrow (Monday) after squandering a big, psychological 2-0 set lead over the Open Conference champions.
Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza and Pangs Panaga all came away with 14 points apiece for Creamline, which drew 23 excellent sets from Jia de Guzman.
Playmaker Rhea Dimaculangan actually bested de Guzman with her 27-excellent set effort for PLDT, which earlier turned a losing stand in the second set into a rousing victory after rallying from seven down and saving five set points. A block and a Valdez attack error paved the way for the High Speed Hitters' escape.
Dell Palomata led PLDT with 14 points while Mika Reyes, Fiola Ceballos and Jules Samonte fired 13, 11 and 10 points, respectively, and Erika Santos and Jovie Prado chipped in eight points apiece in another pair of splendid back-up job.
But the High Speed Hitters slowed down in the third, failed to recover in the next, played catch-up in the fifth and missed duplicating their second set caper.
Creamline's come-from-behind win thus redeemed the Cool Smashers from an ego-deflating foldup in the second set with a scrambling win in the third and a dominant showing in the next.
With momentum and confidence, the Open Conference champions took the first three points in the decider and went up by 5 twice, the last at 11-6, before finding themselves in a bind again.
For the High Speed Hitters strung up five straight points, aided by two Creamline attack errors and a Soyud block off Galanza. But the Cool Smashers came out of their final huddle back in their fierce form, scoring three straight points, including a Soyud crossing violation at 12-11, a power hit from Carlos, and a Panaga block on Soyud.
A contested service error gave PLDT some reprieve but the Cool Smashers went on their defense to frustrate their rivals' offense with Carlos , whose off-speed hit after a spectacular save that made it 5-1 for Creamline drew cheers from their fans, coming through with the gem of defense off Basas.