Confusion over challenge spills into Creamline streak

Creamline Cool Smashers. PVL PHOTO

There was controversy that lingered long after Petro Gazz dismissed PLDT, 19-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25, in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference on Saturday at Sta. Rosa Sports Complex in Laguna.

As confusion reigned over a challenge by PLDT coach George Pascua, a 40-minute delay ensued—with its repercussions lasting even longer.

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For one, PLDT didn’t sign the match scoresheet, leaving the result vulnerable to a protest.

And then Creamline labored to a 25-23, 20-25, 25-12, 32-30 victory later in the night against stubborn Chery Tiggo and booked a semifinal spot without the benefit of the challenge system that could have shortened the fourth set and settled disputes that resulted in yellow cards.

PLDT was on the verge of forcing a fifth set when, at match point for the High Speed Hitters, Petro Gazz’s Lindsey Vander Weide committed an attack error.

But the point was waved off because during the ongoing rally, Pascua raised a net touch challenge on a previous play.

What followed was the 40-minute lull, where officials sifted through replays to track down the violation Pascua raised. But technical officials could not dig up any violation and the challenge was deemed unsuccessful resulting in a point for Petro Gazz, which tied the count at 24.

The Angels pounced on the opportunity and closed out the 72-minute fourth set to beef up their semifinal hopes.

“They knew the importance of this match,” said Petro Gazz coach Rald Ricafort in Filipino, lauding his players for staying focused despite the confusion. “In those situations, they have to stick to our game plan. They really wanted to win.”

Sources later told the Inquirer that the challenge system was suspended for the key match between erstwhile undefeated squads Creamline and Chery Tiggo, which led to more drama in another extended fourth set.

In several instances in the crucial stretch of the fourth set, the Cools Smashers could have benefitted from reviews. Instead, the team was flashed yellow cards over discussions with the lead referee.

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