PVL: Valdez, Kaewpin shine as Creamline barges into semis

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Alyssa Valdez (2) pounces on an over-received ball from Air Force. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – Alyssa Valdez and guest player Kuttika Kaewpin took turns carrying the load for Creamline, as the Cool Smashers swept Philippine Air Force to secure their ticket to the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference.

After being dragged into back-to-back five-set matches in their first two quarterfinals assignments, the Cool Smashers made quick work of the Lady Jet Spikers, 25-16, 26-24, 25-17, on Thursday at FilOil Flying V Centre.

The swift victory gave the Cool Smashers a 2-1 record in the brief quarterfinal phase of the tournament, and ensured that they will advance to the semifinals, regardless of the result of the other game between Perlas and Pocari Sweat.

“Sabi ko nga, hindi pwedeng huminto,” Pocari assistant coach Oliver Almadro said. “We should not stop by going to the semis. Of course, we are now in the semis, and we now have a chance for the finals.”

Only the second set carried drama, as both teams exchanged runs for most of the frame. A mishit by Kaewpin gave Air Force a 22-20 advantage late, but it proved to be a precarious lead as Creamline responded with back-to-back points to tie the match.

Kills by Iari Yongco and Joy Cases put Air Force at set point, 24-22, forcing Creamline coach Tai Bundit to sue for time. Off the timeout, Valdez came through with a clutch kill, and Bundit’s substitution of Ivy Remulla for import Laura Schaudt paid dividends.

The former La Salle standout fired an ace to tie the frame at 24, and Valdez unleashed two straight kills to secure the win for the Cool Smashers.

“‘Yun naman ang meron si Ivy. Ever since naging player siya sa La Salle, buo talaga ang loob niyan,” Almadro said of Remulla.

Creamline rode the momentum of its second-set win to comfortably claim the third set.

Valdez finished with 19 points on 14 attacks, four aces, and one block, while Kaewpin added 17 points on 14 attacks. Alex Cabaños had 31 excellent sets, while Ceska Racraquin had 20 excellent receptions and 10 digs.

Creamline gave away 25 free points off errors, but made up for them with a 43-28 advantage in attacks. The Cool Smashers also tallied 12 service aces against the Lady Jet Spikers.

The Cool Smashers join Bali Pure and the Power Smashers in the semifinals, though their final seeding will still be determined by the result of the Pocari-Perlas game.

Guest player Patcharee Saengmuang had seven points for Air Force, which dropped all three of its quarterfinal matches. 

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