MANILA, Philippines—Creamline may have completed a come-from-behind 25-16, 20-25, 14-25, 25-11, 15-9 victory over also-ran Chery Tiggo on Tuesday but it was a heartbreaking outcome nonetheless. as it couldn’t salvage its Grand Slam dream.
After a strong first-set showing by the Cool Smashers, Mylene Paat and the Crossovers stole the momentum in the next two sets, especially in the third where they dominated and eliminated the Cool Smashers from finals contention for the first time after seven straight appearances.
Creamline captain Alyssa Valdez admitted the pressure to win in three or four sets got the better of them, failing to display their championship poise coming off two successful title runs and a pair of international stints representing the Philippine women’s volleyball team.
“I think pressure came in. And, it’s been a while since we felt that pressure. It’s been a while since we were in this kind of situation also. I think we actually didn’t get to handle it in such a way as a champion team. So, [it was]on us, on us,” said a teary-eyed Valdez, who delivered 18 points off 15 attacks and three blocks.
Despite getting their title hopes snuffed in the third set, the Cool Smashers kept their heads up and fought with pride to pull off a comeback victory before being relegated to the battle for third.
“What we did in the fourth and fifth set, we just let it all out. It was really free volleyball, we respected the sport. That’s why I feel like, at the end of the day, when we play our next games, we’ll have that kind of mentality,” she said.
The three-time PVL MVP felt like going back to their rookie year as they won’t be in the finals since the franchise joined the league in 2017 when Valdez was seeing action overseas and setter Jia De Guzman, Jema Galanza, Celine Domingo, and Tots Carlos were still in the UAAP.
“It’s weird to say we’re like coming back on our rookie year because we haven’t felt not competing in the Finals it’s been so long,” Valdez said.
The result also meant the end of Creamline’s bid for a rare Grand Slam after it ruled the first two conferences. Overall, the Cool Smashers won five of their last seven trips to the finals.
But Valdez promises that her team will learn from this. But for now, the Cool Smashers seek to finish strong when they face the Crossovers anew in the best-of-three battle for bronze starting on Thursday.
“We have to keep on learning. There are different situations every time. So we’re just really lucky to be in this situation. Actually, the privilege to feel that pressure and yeah, we’re still grateful,” Valdez said.
“It’s a different learning experience coming into the bronze game. So, we’ll take it one game at a time,” she added.
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