Are the two teams starting a tradition in the Premier Volleyball League?
Emerging as the best of the best anew, the Creamline Cool Smashers and the Petro Gazz Angels are set to face in the finals series of the 2019 PVL Open Conference, their second consecutive title showdown in the league.
Entering the championship round for the first time, the Angels bested the Cool Smashers in their best-of-three title series last July to snatch the Reinforced Conference crown–their first gold medal finish in franchise history.
The impending Open Conference title duel holds a different significance for both teams: the Cool Smashers are looking to defend their throne, while the Angels are looking to steal another title.
Before the opening salvo of the championship series, Fox Sports PH breaks down the numbers of both teams to see where they stand up against each other.
THE INVINCIBLE AND THE TROOPER
In their respective title campaigns this conference, both teams have individual stories that stand on different ends of the spectrum.
The Cool Smashers have proven to be an indestructible force so far in the tournament with their untainted sixteen-game winning streak all the way to the finals. The last time Creamline swept the elimination round was in the Open Conference back in 2017, where they dropped their semifinals series against eventual champions Balipure Purest Water Defenders.
Dominance has been the name of the game for the Cool Smashers, who only dropped four sets so far in the tournament. In sixteen games played in the elimination round, Creamline won 12 straight-set games and four four-setter matches. Their campaign has been, without question, close to perfection.
In contrast, Petro Gazz experienced a bit of turbulence in the tournament. Caught in a tight crossfire between six other teams competing for Final Four slots, the Angels had to carefully dance their way through the fire in order to seal a second-place finish after the elimination round.
The Reinforced Conference champions found their groove in the latter end of the preliminaries, finishing with a 12-4 slate to stand behind Creamline in the team standings. Apart from their four losses, the Angels have been relatively strong throughout the tournament as they staged 10 straight-set wins in sixteen games played.
Both Creamline and Petro Gazz have displayed stellar offensive outings all tournament-long, evident with their leaderboard finishes in the scoring departments.
The Cool Smashers emerged as the top attacking and serving team after the elimination round, tallying 34.36 percent spiking success rate and averaging 2.19 aces per set. Just behind them are the Angels who finished second in the said departments, recording 30.93 percent attacking success rate and averaging 1.8 aces per set.
The power trinity of Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Michele Gumabao has led the offensive charge of the Cool Smashers as they occupy the second to fourth spots in the spiking department, just behind Dell Palomata of the Philippine Air Force Lady Jet Spikers. Petro Gazz, meanwhile, only has Jonah Sabete representing them in the said department after finishing ninth.
Both Creamline and Petro Gazz benefit from solid playmaking as they are practically tied in the setting department with 6.81 and 6.79 average excellent sets per set.
Valdez has also proven her service prowess anew as she finished first in the said department with 0.54 aces per set. Behind her are Petro Gazz players Jovy Prado and Jeanette Panaga, who are tied for second place with 0.43 aces per set.
The Angels finished as the top blocking team of the tournament after the elimination round with 2.21 average kill blocks per set, while Creamline is tied in third place with Air Force with 1.79. Leading the net defense for Petro Gazz are middle blockers Panaga and Cherry Nunag, who stand in third and eighth in the said department.
FLOOR DEFENSE IS KEY
With both teams playing powerful offensive games, it is imperative for both to step up their floor defense if they want to counter each other’s scoring prowess.
At the center of both teams are two steady liberos: Creamline’s Kyla Atienza and Petro Gazz’ Cienne Cruz. Atienza leads the digging department with 5.21 average digs per set and is second in receiving with 47.93 percent efficiency; Cruz, meanwhile, leads in the reception with 49.83 percent efficiency and is fourth in digs with 3.71 digs per set.
While they have been consistent all tournament-long, their numbers don’t necessarily reflect the collective performance of their respective teams. Both teams have been reception masters, with Petro Gazz in first with 44.77 percent and Creamline in second with 44.11 percent.
The digging department, however, is a different story–while Creamline is in the third spot of the digging department with 18.12 digs per set, Petro Gazz trails in the competition as they finished eighth out of nine teams in the said department. With both teams incorporating a low-fast offensive style in their respective systems, there is a need for both the Cool Smashers and the Angels to step up their defensive game even more.
BACK TO ZERO
If there’s one thing teams have learned in the history of the sport, it’s that the championship round is a whole new battlefield where previous records can be disregarded and overthrown. While Creamline defeated Petro Gazz twice in the elimination round, it is also safe to point out that the latter edged out the former in their title duel last conference. There are no more pros and cons in the finals–only a crown to win.
Both teams seek to draw first blood in Game One of their best-of-three series tomorrow on 6 p.m. at the Filoil Flying V Center.