Creamline concludes AVC Cup stint, finishes 6th

by Kyle Andrew Abello || Photo Credit: PVL MEDIA BUREAU/Rappler Philippines

After earning their right to represent the Philippines in the 2022 Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women, the Creamline Cool Smashers—champions of the 2022 Premier Volleyball League Invitationals—braved the tournament and concluded their stint with a 6th place finish after bowing to Chinese Taipei in straight sets, 28-26, 25-21, 25-21, last August 29 at the PhilSports Arena.

Creamline’s 6th place finish in the AVC Cup successfully topped the Philippines’ 9th place finish in the 2018 edition held in Thailand. The team had undoubtedly proved their haters wrong by keeping up with the strongest teams across the continent.

Even with little time to prepare and rest after the PVL, they represented the Philippines with high spirits, giving justice to what the Philippines is capable of on the volleyball court.

Creamline’s AVC Cup opener was against one of the powerhouses of Southeast Asian volleyball, Vietnam. Key players Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao, and Tots Carlos scored 13, 11, and 9 points, respectively. Due to health protocols, captain and setter Jia De Guzman failed to play in their game debut, forcing Kyle Negrito to step into action. Despite starting the two sets with a somewhat slow start for the Philippines, 25-19, 25-17, Carlos and Atienza showcased their grit and managed to extend the third set; however, Vietnam was still able to finish the game in a sweep, 31-29.

Second to face the Philippines was the five-time defending champion, China, who proved court superiority with a straight-set win, 25-16, 25-22, 25-20. Undeterred by their loss, Creamline was proud of their game as they had stuck close with China on the scoreboard for the match’s majority. With De Guzman back in the court, Carlos, Gumabao, and Galanza put up a tough fight against the Chinese. Carlos led the scoreboard of the national team with 15 points, while Gumabao and Galanza followed with 11 points apiece. Meanwhile, libero Atienza guarded the home floor with her superb floor defense.

Following two straight losses, the Cool Smashers finally earned a win after a four-set match against Iran, 25-19, 25-22, 20-25, 25-14. Galanza continued her astonishing performance on the international stage with a sensational 21-point outing. Carlos and Gumabao assisted the win with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the middle blockers Pangs Panaga and Ced Domingo overcame their quiet outings against China with nine points apiece, including three and two block points, respectively.

Slashing their way into the quarter-finals of the AVC Cup, the Philippines showcased their veteran expertise in their fourth game against the young team of South Korea with a sweep, 25-18, 25-13, 25-17. Galanza and Carlos yet again proved their dominance after scoring 12 and 11 points, respectively. Domingo and Gumabao both also contributed 9 points, chipping into the 12 block points of the team with 3 blocks each.

After defeating South Korea, Thailand was the next team for the Philippines. While the first set went to the gold medalists for the 2021 SEA Games Women’s Volleyball Tournament, 18-25, the Philippines managed to steal the second set from the Thais, 25-23. Even with the team staying close for the majority of the third set, Thailand limited their errors and regained momentum, successfully ousting the Philippines from a semifinals seat, 20-25, 9-25. Gumabao, Carlos, and Domingo were the main guns of the country, with 13, 12, and 8 points, respectively.

Barred from the semifinals, the Philippines faced Australia in a classification for 5th to 8th places. Creamline was eager to bounce back from the loss against Thailand, where after a five-set thriller, their hard work and perseverance paid off, 21-25, 25-19, 19-25, 25-18, 15-12. Carlos brought home 26 points, backstopped by Galanza and Domingo with 18 points individually.

Finally, in their fight for 5th place, Creamline-Philippines battled against Chinese Taipei. The team, having played six matches in seven days, tried to limit the lead and level the playing field; even so, Chinese Taipei clinched the game and the 5th spot finish. Carlos, who had delivered the big guns in their previous match against Australia, was limited to seven points. On the other hand, Domingo led the charge with 12 points, Gumabao had nine points, and Galanza and Panaga recorded eight markers each.

“We’re very happy with the outcome of the AVC Cup. It could’ve been different also if we had more time to prepare, but the whole team was very willing to step up to the opportunity and we’re very grateful for it,” De Guzman said in an interview with OneSports. “And, you know, the wins and lessons that we got are so priceless and would be a really big help for our team, whether in the PVL or if we are given the chance internationally, we will absolutely take it and we’ll improve.”

The next stop of the team will be in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, for the ASEAN Grand Prix set on September 9-11, 2022. After two days of much-needed and deserved rest, the squad will go back to training as they prepare for their rematch against Thailand and Vietnam.

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