Jema Galanza. –PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Jema Galanza celebrated her 27th birthday by helping Creamline stay unbeaten in nine games with a win over Chery Tiggo, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20, 25-16, in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday evening at Philsports Arena.

Receiving gifts and cheers from her fans on her special day, Galanza remained laser-sharp focused for the Cool Smashers, delivering an all-around performance of 16 points including two blocks to go with 18 digs and 10 excellent receptions.

“I’m happy to get this win on my birthday. This game showed that we cannot relax because they can beat us if we are complacent,” said Galanza in Filipino. “We want to end the elimination round by winning our remaining games. We will study and prepare for our remaining matches because the semis will be tougher for us.”

“My wish was to win this game. And of course, to win the championship,” said the 2019 Open Conference Most Valuable Player. “[I also wish] that all the teams will stay healthy until the end of the tournament. We’re happy because we got our goal today.”

There are no days off for Galanza as she continues to train with Creamline on Wednesday as they try to complete an 11-game elimination round sweep against also-ran Akari on Thursday and winless Galeries Tower next week.

Besides Galanza, reigning MVP Tots Carlos also shone with 16 points. Jeanette Panaga nailed five kills, three blocks, and two aces to finish with 10 markers, while Michele Gumabao and Alyssa Valdez chipped in nine and eight points, respectively.

Kyle Negrito sustained her fine playmaking with 24 excellent sets on top of five points, as Bernadeth Pons provided the spark from Creamline’s bench, nailing the finishing touches in the third to regain the lead, two sets to one, and set the tone for their dominant fourth set to clinch the win.

“The teamwork is there and almost all the players were fielded and contributed. That’s what’s important to our team, helping one another. We’re thankful to get this win so we can build a good momentum entering the semis,” said Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses in Filipino.

Chery Tiggo dropped to third place with an 8-2 record behind its next opponent Choco Mucho (9-1) on Saturday in Iloilo to close the elimination round.

Mylene Paat led the charge with 11 points, while Eya Laure was limited to nine points and 10 receptions. Pauline Gaston and Cza Carandang chipped in nine points each, as EJ Laure added eight.

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