DEFENDING champion Creamline found Pacifictown Army a tough nut to crack before hammering out a 26-24, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20 win and moving on the cusp of claiming its third consecutive Finals stint yesterday in the PVL Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Troopers gave the Cool Smashers everything to handle, even winning the third set, but the first-time semifinalist crumbled in the fourth.
“I think we were leading the third set but I guess when complacency comes in, it’s really hard. It’s the semifinals, you know that Army won’t just give it away,” said Creamline skipper Alyssa Valdez.
Game 2 is set Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, with the Cool Smashers expecting a better effort from the battle-tested Lady Troopers.
Thai Kuttika Kaewpin scattered 21 kills to go with 16 digs while Venezuelan Ale Blanco had four blocks and three service aces to finish with 19 points for Creamline, which has won 10 in a row after dropping its conference opener to PetroGazz.
Down 11-19 in the third frame, the Cool Smashers exploited the Lady Troopers’ string of errors to tie the set at 22.
Ukrainian import Lena Lymareva-Flink scored on the next play before Creamline’s Venezuelan import Ale Blanco committed a net touch as Pacifictown-Army moved at set point.
Nene Bautista was called for a net touch in the next play before Lymareva-Flink denied the Cool Smashers a comeback with an off the block kill to give the Lady Troopers a lifeline.