Cool Smashers, Taiwanese rematch for PVL Invitational crown

CREAMLINE puts its reputation on the line against a team soaking up the atmosphere of its own finals run as the Cool Smashers try to nail a fifth crown overall and second in the league’s pro era as they face a fired-up KingWhale-Taiwan (KWT) side in a winner-take-all final Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The no-tomorrow showdown is set at 5:30 p.m.

Creamline is also entering the game reeling from a five-set defeat to the visiting squad just last Friday but the Cool Smashers can lean on the fact that they showed up without one of their top hitters coupled with the sidelining of their seasoned skipper late in the contest.

But the league’s top draw is expected to be back in full force with Jema Galanza and Alyssa Valdez tipped to join Tots Carlos, Celine Domingo, Risa Sato, Michelle Gumabao, Rose Vargas and playmaker Jia de Guzman for the all-important tussle.

KWT and Cignal HD, meanwhile, faced each other Saturday with the Taiwanese seeking to close out their semifinals campaign with a fourth straight victory behind its support crew as coach Teng Yen-Min rested his starters for today’s title showdown.

The Cool Smashers, however, will need more than experience, power and crowd support to foil a rival reinforced by a killer of a hitter in Bea de Carvalho and a mix of young and veteran locals eager and ready to score a repeat over the most feared team in the fold and complete a five-game sweep of the mid-season conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.

With the Brazilian import on the firing end, KWT outhit Creamline, 69-55, and though the Cool Smashers dominated the net with nine blocks, seven more than the Taiwanese, the latter pounced on their rivals’ sloppy service reception that netted them seven aces.

They also scored 28 points off the Cool Smashers’ miscues while yielding 25 of their own.

Young setter Lian Yi-Jen also produced 38 excellent sets to outshine de Guzman, who finished with 18 in an abbreviated stint as Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses went for new combinations after securing the first finals berth with a sweep of first three games in the semis last Thursday.

But numbers won’t matter in sudden death but cohesion and poise and the knack to keep its nerve in check, particularly in pressure-packed stretches of each set.    

“We’re excited but Creamline is good, and all its players are smart,” said KWT coach Teng Yen-Min, who is banking on De Carvalho again, along with Chen Li-Jun, Chang Chih-Hsuan and Liao, and the team’s ever-improving chemistry in pursuit of PVL glory.

De Carvalho braces for a power duel with Carlos with the former hard-pressed to match or surpass her 24-point explosion Friday after pumping in 14 and 19 points against Army and PLDT, respectively.

The Taiwanese heads-up plays had likewise earned them respect and support from the fans although the Cool Smashers remain the crowd favorites and are expected to draw inspiration again from their horde of followers.

After a couple of third place finishes (Reinforced and Open) since joining the league in 2017, Creamline has won four championships in six finals appearances although its crack at the fifth crown could be imperiled in the face of KWT’s remarkable showing marked by a back-to-back five-set escapes.

Meanwhile, PLDT, which blew two chances to get into the finals, and Cignal, which struggled again after a strong start in the conference, tangle at 2:30 p.m. for third place.

The conference’s top performers will be feted after the championship match.

The Creamline-KingWhale Taipei match will be aired live on One Sports (free to Air Ch 41 and Cignal CH 6) and One Sports+ (Cignal Ch 91 SD, Ch 261 HD). Both channels are also available on Cignal’s OTT Platform, Cignal Play, with video on demand also available on the platform.

The game can also be streamed on social media application KUMU and on the league’s official website