April 14, 2024

Battle of 4 Cs: What to expect in PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals

Battle of 4 Cs: What to expect in PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals
Art by Royce Nicdao

Can anyone beat the Creamline Cool Smashers?

It's honestly the question that should spell out the results of the PVL Second All-Filipino Conference, as the defending champions swept the competition in the elimination round with an 11-0 record.

And it has to be said, the Cool Smashers did this without star setter Jia de Guzman, without 2022 Invitational Conference Finals MVP Ced Domingo, and with three-time MVP Tots Carlos coming off the bench.

Partida, hindi pa babad si Alyssa Valdez niyan.

The semifinals this time will feature a best-of-three format. So there is extra room for upsets and leeway for adjustments, but only for a bit. 

#1 CREAMLINE COOL SMASHERS (11-0) VS #4 CHERY TIGGO CROSSOVERS (8-3)


Preliminaries result: Creamline def. Chery Tiggo, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20, 25-16

There were a lot of caveats in their elimination round meeting, as Chery Tiggo setter Jasmine Nabor was very much feeling under the weather and other Crossovers were not 100%. But then again, Creamline was also technically undermanned without de Guzman and Domingo. Still, a win is a win for the Cool Smashers.

  

Key matchup: Jema Galanza vs Eya Laure

Laure is definitely making a case for the MVP award. She's the third top scorer with 186 points, fourth in spiking with a 35.55% success rate, and fifth in services with 14 aces.

But she will be up against Galanza and the rest of Creamline's double-digit machines in Carlos and Michele Gumabao.

Galanza is especially notable, as she provides consistent floor cover with a receiving efficiency of 36.27% and a digging average of 2.50 per set. We really don't have anything else to say anything regarding this high-flier when it comes to attacks. Her spikes speak for themselves.

ALSO READ: ‘Patayan na ‘to’: Jema Galanza shifts focus on PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals after elims sweep

Throwback: 2021 Open Conference finals

The last time Creamline and Chery Tiggo faced each other in the finals, the Crossovers had sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Santiago-Manabat to overpower the Cool Smashers in three matches during the Ilocos Bubble finals in 2021.

No Santiago sisters this time, but hey, maybe the Laure sisters can repeat the magic. Orrr, maybe it will be the Jema-Mafe Galanza sister tandem on the pink side.

Don't underestimate these:

• Creamline is the top team in setting with Kyle Negrito, who has led the Cool Smashers into becoming the top squad in spiking with the likes of Galanza, Gumabao, and Carlos.

• A healthy Nabor can deliver excellent sets, aces, and spikes. Attacking setters are always a treat.

• Can Creamline reduce its errors? In their preliminary matchup against Chery Tiggo, the defending champions committed 29 errors. Twenty-nine! That's more than a set's worth of points.

• It's still mind-blowing that Creamline's subs are Carlos and beach volleyball queen Bernadeth Pons (and occasionally, Valdez). Chery Tiggo would have to get more magic bunots aside from Cess Robles if they want to dethrone the Cool Smashers.

ALSO READ: Playoff mode: Pauline Gaston gives subtle but stern message ahead of semifinals of PVL Second All-Filipino Conference

#2 CHOCO MUCHO FLYING TITANS (10-1) VS #3 CIGNAL HD SPIKERS (8-3)

Preliminaries result: Choco Mucho def. Cignal, 25-21, 25-19, 25-18

The Flying Titans waited to get this straight-sets win for a long time. It was a sweet, sweet victorytheir first against Cignal since April 2022. It looked like the VTV Cup experience and embracing the system of coach Dante Alinsunurin worked wonders for the Ube Girls, as they never looked back after their opening day loss to Creamline.

Choco Mucho is also technically undermanned, with Des Cheng suffering an ACL injury during the elimination round. But plenty have stepped up, such as Isa Molde and Regine Arocha. Thang Ponce also grew to be a gem after the VTV Cup.

The HD Spikers are missing their feisty leader in Rachel Anne Daquis, but Ces Molina seems to be handling the pressure just fine with help from power rookie Vanie Gandler as well as steady middles in Riri Meneses and Roselyn Doria.

Key matchups: Deanna Wong vs Gel Cayuna | Sisi Rondina vs Ces Molina

Labanan ng gulangan.

Boss D finished the preliminaries as the top setter with an average of 5.08 per set, Cayuna is fourth with 4.44. Wong also has 1-2 plays in her arsenal, while Cayuna has racked up points at the service line as the second best server.

So just how well can they use their blockers and spikers to confuse their opponents?

Meanwhile, Rondina is undisputably the MVP for Choco Mucho as the second top scorer of the league with 194 points. The beach volleyball queen, known for being an explosive high-flying spiker, also takes pride with her reception efficiency of 39.77%.

At the other end of the court is Ces Molina, the sixth top scorer with 172 points. Need a point? Just give it to the reigning Invitational Conference MVP and she'll definitely make the kill.

ALSO READ: Time to shine: Ube Nation believes Choco Mucho ripe for title run in PVL Second All-Filipino Conference

Throwback: 2022 Open Conference battle for bronze

The last time Choco Mucho won against Cignal, it was Game 1 in the battle for third in the 2022 Open Conference, 3-1. The HD Spikers got back with their own 3-1 victory in Game 2.

But the format relied on the results of the finals series, which Creamline won in two games. And that meant there was no Game 3 for Choco Mucho and Cignal. The HD Spikers got the medal via points ratio instead.

Don't underestimate these:

• Alinsunurin has given his players plenty of confidence during the preliminaries, with various spikers stepping up in one game or another. You know you have a deep bench when Choco Mucho veterans Kat Tolentino and Bea de Leon score off the bench.

• Jovelyn Gonzaga has provided a steady presence for Cignal, either in points, blocks, or digs, along with libero Bia General.

• Just how well can Gandler show up against her ates from the Ateneo Blue Eagles? That's a showdown worth watching.

• Picture this: Award-winning middle blockers in Meneses and Doria versus explosive scorers in Rondina and Molde.

ALSO READ: Ces Molina, Vanie Gandler share focus for Cignal ahead of PVL semifinals after dominating sweep of Gerflor

The PVL Second All-Filipino Conference semifinals will start this Thursday, with Creamline battling Chery Tiggo at 4 p.m. and Choco Mucho facing off against Cignal at 6 p.m.

Both games will be aired live on One Sports, One Sports+, and the Pilipinas Live app.

(PM)