Ranged against a pair of struggling rivals, expect Creamline and PLDT to still go all out in pursuit of victories that will bolster their respective semifinal drive in the Premier Volleyball League All Filipino Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig today.
The Cool Smashers rebounded from a heart-breaking five-set setback to the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers with an imposing 3-1 romp over the Chery Tiggo Crossovers last weekend, keeping them in step with their tormentors in the lead going to the last eight playdates of the single round elims of the season-opening conference organized by Sports Vision.
And barring any major disaster and slip, the defending champions look to nail their fifth win in six games against the Army Lady Troopers in the 4 p.m. opener and move a win away from securing the first Final Four seat.
PLDT is at third with 3-1 slate, while Chery Tiggo is just behind at 3-2 and Petro Gazz and Choco Mucho match 2-2 cards as six teams brace for what looms to be a wild, wooly chase for berths in post-elims play.
But winless in four games, the Lady Troopers are due for a victory after barely clinching it the last time out, losing steam in the stretch and dropping a five-set defeat to the Choco Mucho Flying Titans last Thursday.
It was indeed a sorry loss for Army, which drew double-digit outputs from five players – Jeanette Villareal (19 points), Honey Royse Tubino (17) Nene Bautista (12), Lut Malaluan (12) and Ivy Perez (10) – with Mary Anne Esguerra scoring nine points.
But they still fell short and the Lady Troopers will need a whole lot of everything to topple a solid Creamline side bannered by Jema Galanza, Tots Carlos, Michele Gumabao, Ced Domingo, Pangs Panaga, ace playmaker Jia de Guzman and defense specialist Kyla Atienza.
The High Speed Hitters, on the other hand, seek to nail their fourth straight victory after an opening game loss to the Cargo Movers as they battle the Chargers, who snapped a three-game skid with a four-set victory over the Lady Troopers.
Gametime is at 6:30 p.m. with Mary Anne Mendrez and Michelle Morente out to sustain their fiery form that anchored PLDT’s thrilling five-set win against the Petro Gazz Angels, also last Thursday.
The duo put up a pair of 21-point performances and drew solid backup from Jovie Prado, Dell Palomata and Mika Reyes but the High Speed Hitters remain wary of the Chargers, who will be coming into the match brimming with confidence after checking their skid and keeping their slim semis hopes alive.
Dindin Manabat, who fired 23 points against the Troopers, is again expected to lead Akari’s charge along with May Permentill, Princess Madrigal, Janine Marciano and Joy Soyud as they try to stop the High Speed Hitters’ run and boost their own Final Four bid.
Games are telecast live on One Sports, One Sports+, Cignal Play, and SMART Live Stream and on pvl.ph.