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Creamline scuttles Choco Mucho's bid before record crowd

Creamline and Choco Mucho treated a record 19,000 screaming fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena to an enthralling battle of power, quick hits, and saves with the grand slam-seeking Cool Smashers coming out a 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 28-26 winner to close out its Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference elims campaign on top of the heap.

Tots Carlos, back in her fierce form coming off back issues, foiled Kat Tolentino’s attack to save a set point for Creamline at 26 in the fourth then the former UP stalwart banged in a kill and Jema Galanza wrapped up the thrilling all-Filipino encounter with an ace, frustrating Choco Mucho’s hordes of fans that came alive when the Flying Titans fought back from 20-24 down to force a tie at 24 on a Bea de Leon quick attack.

Tolentino and Galanza traded kills to extend the match but the Flying Titans, who played without import Odina Aliyeva due to health concerns, looked headed to forcing a fifth set after scoring a point off a Creamline miscue following a collision between Galanza and Jia de Guzman.

But Carlos tied it again with a stinging block off Tolentino and the Cool Smashers won the next two points to finish off the Flying Titans and seal their seventh win against a solitary loss.

The setback dropped Choco Mucho to 3-4, hampering it’s semis chances with Cignal and F2 Logistics getting the inside track at fourth with identical 3-3 marks with two playdates left in the hotly-contested elims.

The HD Spikers and the Cargo Movers clash in a key match in the penultimate elims playdate tomorrow back at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Petro Gazz is a cinch to clinch the third semis spot after Creamline and Chery Tiggo, which earlier ousted PLDT, 25-20, 18-25, 22-25, 25-16, 18-16, to finish with a 6-2 mark.

With Aliyeva out, Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses obliged and pulled out Yeliz Basa after scoring four points after two sets, setting the stage for an all-Filipino duel between sister teams.

Choco Mucho earlier stunned Creamline with a dominant first set win but the Cool Smashers re-grouped and took the next two and appeared headed to wrapping it up in four after surging to a 24-20 lead.

But the Flying Titans, spurred by their roaring fans, had other things in mind although the Cool Smashers proved to have enough firepower and defense to scuttle their sister team’s bid.

Carlos topscored for Creamline with 25 points while Ced Domingo put up another impressive outing of 15 points and many-time MVP Alyssa Valdez put in a quiet 14-point output.

Galanza struggled with just five points but her ace proved enough to clinch the match for the Open Conference and Invitational champions.

Tolentino finished with 24 points while Des Cheng added 17 markers for the Flying Titans, who must hurdle the HD Spikers next Tuesday and hope Cignal to prevail over F2 Logistics to force a tie at 4-4. 
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