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PVL: Kurashiki dethrones Creamline, claims Invitational crown

MANILA, July 31 ------ The Kurashiki Ablaze survived a Creamline Cool Smashers fight back to sweep its way to the 2023 PVL Invitational Conference title. Kurashiki stayed composed in the deciding frame to hack out a hard-fought 19-25, 25-23, 25-19, 20-25, 15-13 crown-clinching victory over the crowd-favorite Creamline at the Philsports Arena. The Japanese squad became the first foreign team to lift the PVL title through a perfect 6-0 win-loss card in the entire conference.

Conference First Best Outside Spiker Asaka Tamaru carried the team with an impressive 29 points on 28 attacks and title-winning ace. Tamaru got ample support from her teammates this time as Akane Hiraoka tallied 14 points while Yukino Yano and Miho Kawamura added 11 apiece. The scattered scoring from Ablaze was made possible by the team’s setter Kyoka Ohshima, who was also hailed as the Finals MVP after tallying 19 excellent sets and five points. “Very enjoy na sila sa super many audience. Meron silang pressure pero nagiging isang buong team. Good win,” Ohshima said through an interpreter.

Creamline and Kurashiki put the 8,223 fans in the arena on the edge of their seats as they former pulled the match into a decider. It was a neck-and-neck battle in the fifth with Creamline holding an 8-6 advantage after an error by Tamaru. But Japan quickly recovered as they overturned the match as Yano unleashed two of the three spikes of the team for a 9-8 lead. Tots Carlos gave Cool Smashers the lead in the latter part of the set after drilling a combination play, 12-11. Down 12-13, Saki Tanabe swiped her attack off the blockers’ hands to equalize before going down the line to put them at matchpoint. Tamaru, then, unleashed an ace which was challenged by Creamline. Upon the review, the ball, indeed, landed on the baseline to cap the championship match and the conference.

Carlos, who was named as the Best Opposite Spiker of the tilt, put on a show, too, with 27 points aside from 20 receptions and 10 digs to tow the Cool Smashers. Ced Domingo, the second Best Middle Blocker, also had an impressive showing with 20 points, including five blocks. Down by a set, the defending champions did not flinch in the crucial fourth set as they erected a separation early with a 15-11 lead after Carlos’ off-the-block kill. But Japan threatened to end the game in the said set as they knotted the score at 20 with Tanabe’s attack.

Showing their composure, the Cool Smashers leaned on Jia de Guzman, who scored back-to-back block points in the 5-0 closeout to extend the game into a decider.



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