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Creamline masters Choco Mucho, zeroes in on semis

Creamline put up a masterstroke of a performance against Choco Mucho, showcasing a blend of impeccable hitting, impenetrable blocking, and championship poise, turning an anticipated showdown into a one-sided affair, 25-17, 25-22, 25-19, in front of a packed, raucous crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Thursday night.

In desperate need of a win to solidify their semifinal bid, the Cool Smashers displayed the winning mentality that had earned them seven previous championships. From the outset, they seized control of the match, leaving the Flying Titans and their fans stunned.

With the victory, Creamline improved to 8-2, joining Choco Mucho in the lead again. However, the Cool Smashers face a crucial matchup against semis contender PLDT on Thursday, while the Flying Titans aim to bounce back against the also-ran Farm Fresh Foxies on Tuesday.

While Choco Mucho’s offense felt the continued absence of Kat Tolentino, Creamline’s relentless onslaught proved too much for the Flying Titans to handle. Tots Carlos, Alyssa Valdez, Pangs Panaga, Bea de Leon and Jema Galanza led the charge with de Leon delivering a standout performance against her former team to clinch the game’s top honors.

The former Ateneo stalwart credited her teammates for their support and guidance throughout the match.

“It’s a big thing to have my teammates with me, they supported and guided me all throughout,” said de Leon, who produced nine points. “At some point, I really felt nervous going up against my former team, but I prayed that I could handle the situation.”

“Happy kami na nakuha namin yung panalo in three sets,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses. “Pero may isa pang game para ma-assure namin yung slot sa semis. Magtatrabaho muna ulit kami.”

Majority of the 17,400 fans cheered their way home, satisfied after witnessing the Cool Smashers assert and extend their dominance over the Flying Titans, whom they have beaten in 12 encounters.

In contrast, Choco Mucho supporters departed the venue stunned, mirroring the emotions of the Flying Titans. Despite entering the match with confidence, they left somewhat feeling tentative and uncertain about their title aspirations.

Carlos exploded with 21 points, spiked by a series of hits to open the third set, while Panaga backed her up by pouring in three of her 11 points in that stretch.

Valdez likewise came into the match swinging with her own blasts, matching Panaga’s output, while Galanza added seven markers.

Panaga also came through with five kill blocks while Carlos added three to underscore the team’s dominance in the middle, 14-5 (blocks). Creamline also scored 45 points in attacks, compared to Choco Mucho’s 32.

The Cool Smashers also shackled Sisi Rondina, who settled for a 17-point outing after coming into the game with a 19-point norm, while Isa Molde scored nine markers. Royse Tubino, Maddie Madayag and Cherry Nunag struggled with seven, four and two points, respectively.

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