Creamline took the best shot of younger sister team Choco Mucho in the middle of the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, wobbled a bit, and then found its footing before delivering a thunderous counterpunch that ultimately wound up as a classic five-set decision, 18-25, 25-9, 21-25, 25-18, and 15-6 on Wednesday.
The defending champions in the 2021 PVL Open Conference was ambushed in the first set before bouncing back in the second. They yet again let go of the ball in the third period and then found themselves behind by two, 11-13, in the fourth.
It was at that point, however, that Alyssa Valdez rallied her teammates from the service line as they went on a furious 14-5 fightback that stole the set.
In the fifth and final frame, "The Phenom" kept at it, scoring the first two points in an 8-3 opening salvo. Tots Carlos and Jia Morado then finished what she started, energizing a 7-2 charge to complete the Creamline comeback and give sister team Choco Mucho its first taste of defeat.
More importantly, the defending champions now stand on level ground with the upstarts in the top spot, the two teams holding identical 6-1 records.
Still putting pressure on both Creamline and Choco Mucho is Chery Tiggo which defanged Black Mamba-Army in straight sets, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21 to stake claim to a playoff berth.
Who else but Santiago sisters Dindin and Jaja to tower over the competition with the former scoring 18 points, all but two from attacks, and the latter firing 15 markers of her own, with 12 coming from hits. Shaya Adorador then claimed five of her seven points from the service line to help the Crossovers need only seven minutes past an hour to wrap up their third win in a row.
"I'm happy and thankful to the players (for performing today). We just have to continue scouting the other teams and invest in our physical conditioning and mental preparation," expressed head coach Aaron Velez as they are breathing down the necks of the Cool Smashers and Flying Titans, holding a 6-2 card.
On the Santiagos' shoulders, Chery Tiggo just kept hammering the Lady Troopers and wound up with a 46-31 edge in spikes. Their last assignment in the elimination round is a must-see matchup opposite Choco Mucho on Saturday which may very well determine seeding and twice-to-beat advantages.
With no answer for the Crossovers' firepower, Jovelyn Gonzaga, who had 11 points, and Army have been pushed to the brink of elimination at 2-5.