BaliPure dominated the last two sets on efficient hitting and solid blocking and rallied from one set down to fashion out a 22-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-21 victory over Creamline on Saturday to move a win away from the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference Finals in San Juan.
The top seeded Water Defenders also pounced on the Cool Smashers’ sloppy reception late in the match with import Jennifer Keddy pounding out back-to-back aces to put BaliPure at match point at 24-17 at the Filoil Flying V Center.No. 4 Creamline did fight back with four straight hits but Aiko Urdas bounce back from a blocked bid with a soft touch that dropped into the unguarded spot in the middle, ending the two-hour encounter in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal duel.
The win thus kept BaliPure’s mastery over Creamline in the season-opening conference of the league organized by Sports Vision with the Water Defenders gunning for a fourth straight victory on Tuesday and a spot in the championship round.
Second seed Power Smashers and No. 3 defending champion Pocari Sweat were disputing the other finals seat in their own best-of-three series at presstime.
The Water Defenders struggled coming off a week-long rest after clinching one of the two outright semis slots, losing steam in a tight opening set but bouncing back strong in the next three, including the last two where they finally imposed their might on the net with Keddy providing the big hits and the big blocks.
“We just focused on ourselves during the break. We practiced hard and got ready for the semis,” said Keddy, who finished with 24 hits, including 13 attack points and five kill blocks, “Everyone just got together and worked together, especially in blocking.” she added.
Risa Sato produced a solid 13-hit output while Grethcel Soltones added 11 markers for BaliPure, which blasted in 50 attack points on Creamline.
The Water Defenders also slowed down Alyssa Valdez, who was held to 12 hits after norming in the 20s in the elims and quarters. Thai Kuttika Kaewpin topscored for the Cool Smashers with 16 points.
So tight was the match in the first two sets that no team led by as many as three with the Cool Smashers fighting back from 19-21 down in the opening frame by winning the next five points to go up, 24-21, capped by Kuttika’s ace.
Sato scored on a quick set to move the Water Defenders to within two but Laura Schaudt hammered in a kill at the back to clinch the set for the Cool Smashers.
Creamline broke away from a 19-all count in the second set by taking four of the next five points for a 23-20 lead. But BaliPure came out of the huddle and earned a point on a Creamline service miscue then Keddy scored on a running attack and two block points off Valdez and the Water Defenders snatched the set on an erratic Creamline reception to force a 1-1 count.
The Water Defenders then outclassed their rivals in the third with a strong finishing kick, posting a 17-12 lead before scoring eight of the next 10 points.
Creamline kept the game close in the fourth but after the Cool Smashers pulled to within, 14-15, the Water Defenders racked up all but one of the next seven points then used the big cushion to fend off the last ditch bid of the Cool Smashers.
Earlier, Army sustained its form coming off a knockout win over Instituto Estetico Manila for the last semis slot Thursday, stunning top seed Air Force, 25-23, 25-22, 21-25, 25-20, to move in the threshold of the men’s finals.
Sta. Elena also pulled off a four-set reversal over No. 2 Cignal HD, 25-20, 24-26, 25-22, 30-28, in the other men’s semis match.