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Heated PVL semis race looms ahead

With Creamline reclaiming its familiar position and Choco Mucho, PLDT, Chery Tiggo, Petro Gazz and Cignal all vying strongly for a spot, the race to the semifinals promises to be intense and fiercely contested when preliminary action resumes on April 2 at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

During the six-day Holy Week break, these teams will not only reflect on their spiritual growth but also strategize for the crucial phase of the single-round elims.

Despite their frontrunning 6-1 card, the Cool Smashers face a challenging stretch ahead, taking on the Angels on April 6, followed by a clash with the Nxled Chameleons on April 13, and a showdown with the title contender Flying Titans on April 18.

They wrap up their prelims campaign against the High Speed Hitters on April 25.

With noticeable parity in the league, Creamline no longer holds the same intimidating aura as in its past title runs as the other five teams in contention now possess the talent and resources to compete with the seven-time champions.

The recent defeat to the Crossovers exposed vulnerabilities in their game, signaling that any team can defeat Creamline on any given day.

Cignal nearly matched that Chery Tiggo feat Tuesday night but the HD Spikers squandered a 2-0 set lead and a 14-11 advantage in the deciding fifth set. eventually yielding the match, 14-16.

Choco Mucho, meanwhile, is eager for a rematch with its sister team after falling short in the Second AFC Finals last year. Led by the dynamic Sisi Rondina, the Flying Titans, tied with the High Speed Hitters with 5-1 records, are again poised to contend for the championship.

They have relatively easier matchups against Galeries Tower on April 2, Capital1 on April 6 and Strong Group on April 13. After its April 18 face-off with Creamline, Choco Mucho closes out its elims campaign against Farm Fresh on April 23.

PLDT, meanwhile, faces Akari on April 2 and Strong Group on April 9, before taking on contenders Chery Tiggo, Cignal and Creamline on April 16, 20 and 25, respectively.

Petro Gazz, tied with Chery Tiggo at 5-2, will also run into tough rivals in Creamline on April 6 and against Cignal on April 16 but hopes to secure key victories over Galeries Tower on April 20, and against Nxled on April 27.

The Crossovers, riding a three-game streak, aim to continue their momentum against the HD Spikers on April 11 before squaring off with the High Speed Hitters on April 16. They play against the Chameleons on April 20 before closing out against the Highrisers on April 25.

Cignal (4-2), on the other hand, hopes to bounce back against Farm Fresh on April 4 and gain confidence for their April 11 duel with Chery Tiggo, against Petro Gazz on April 16, and versus PLDT on April 20. They end their elims stint against Galeries on April 25.

Despite their lower rankings, Akari, Farm Fresh and Galeries Tower, all with 2-4 marks, seek to pull off reversals in the final stretch and fuel their respective backdoor bids in the season-opening conference organized by Sports Vision.

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