Easy win for Creamline

Mismatch.

That’s how you can aptly describe the first PVL Open Conference 2018 game between the Creamline Cool Smashers and the Ateneo-Motolite Lady Eagles. The Banko Perlas-Pocari Sweat game treated the fans to intense volleyball action. But in the second game, the Lady Eagles had little chance of winning the moment three of their key players were ruled out of the match.

We can’t fault Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag, and Ponggay Gaston for not suiting up for the blue and white. The senior immersion that they had to partake is more important in the game of life for they won’t graduate without it. There was even a report that Tolentino might travel to the Baliwag Star Arena after the immersion. That’s more of wishful thinking in hindsight though. It’s a wise decision not to pursue that option in order to get more rest. After all, extended relaxation is vital to a player that has undergone multiple injuries.

Ateneo Lady Eagles can’t take off

The absence of the three seniors wiped away a big chunk of the Ateneo offense. Gaston is an able scorer who can score at least ten points per match while fielding the other team’s service. Madayag has a fluid connection with Deanna Wong for those quick attacks in the middle. Tolentino has led the Lady Eagles in scoring in all six games she played while averaging 18.66 points per match. A 24-point performance against Petro Gazz and a 28-point explosion versus Adamson-Akari are her best performances so far.

Bea De Leon and Vanessa Gandler became marked ladies because the other weapons are not around. Creamline was able to limit them to five and ten points respectively while the rest of the Lady Eagles can’t muster enough offense. That’s why their scores per set dropped to 17 and 14 after a promising 23-point first set. Their 30 attack points are nowhere near Creamline’s 44. The lack of offensive firepower allowed Jia Morado to execute 28 excellent sets while Ateneo had 12. Samantha Fanger’s nine points is a positive sign for the long term even though most of Ateneo’s offense was grounded.

Creamline smashed Coach Almadro’s crew

Ateneo got some consolation when Risa Sato and Pau Soriano did not see action while Michele Gumabao is still in Albania for the Miss Globe pageant. It would still be a farce to call it an even match given that Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Jia Morado are still playing. Valdez needed only 36 attempts to get 19 points while Galanza had ten points (seven spikes, two aces, one block). Rizza Mandapat and Cayetano had seven and six points, respectively.

But what’s fascinating is that Morado was able to chip in eight points, five of which are service aces. Something’s flawed in a team’s defense if one player can collect that many aces. Those defensive lapses reduced Ateneo’s excellent digs to just 20 while the Cool Smashers had 45. Libero Kyla Atienza’s 11 digs alone matches the production of Dani Ravena and Gandler combined.

Ateneo-Motolite gets another crack

The two teams will compete once again on October 28 at the Batangas City Sports Complex. Ateneo-Motolite will have Madayag, Tolentino, and Gaston back which calls for a better contest than this one. The win also bumped Creamline atop the PVL Open Conference 2018 team standings with a 6-1 record. Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles are tied with the Banko Perlas Lady Spikers at 5-2 but are currently ranked third because Banko Perlas has 16 match points while Ateneo-Motolite has 12.

Creamline’s second face-off with the Lady Eagles will be their first game in the second round of preliminaries. Ateneo-Motolite will open their second round against the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors on October 27 at 4 PM.