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Jema Galanza’s Triumph: Savoring Creamline’s Toughest PVL Championship

MANILA, Philippines — Jema Galanza, who was part of Creamline’s three perfect Premier Volleyball League (PVL) All-FIlipino Conference title runs, believes the recent one over sister team Choco Mucho was the toughest and sweetest triumph.

In a 12-team field—the biggest PVL yet–Creamline remained invincible after sweeping all its 15 games capped by a thrilling 22-25, 25-20, 29-27, 24-26, 15-12 win over Choco Mucho in Game 2 of the finals that was witnessed by a record-breaking 24,459 crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

The Cool Smashers may have made it look easy to win all their games but it was grueling and challenging for Galanza, who praised the continuous rise of PVL’s level of play.

“Mas tumataas na kasi yung level ng competition lahat talaga alam mo yung pantay pantay na. Grabe yung pagod talaga ng team, ‘di lang kami, yung ibang team din talaga so siguro yun lang din yung kinaibahan ngayong season,” said Galanza, who dropped 21 points built on 18 attacks, two blocks, and an ace  to go with 20 excellent receptions and nine digs.

Adding more challenge to their season-ending campaign was playing without star players Jia De Guzman and Ced Domingo, who are playing for the Denso Airybees in Japan and Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand, respectively.

That’s why Galanza was all praise for setter Kyle Negrito, who accomplished her mission in filling in the big shoes of De Guzman, and Jeanette Panaga, one of the best middle blockers of the conference, and Risa Sato for their steady frontline presence.

“Gusto ko lang sabihin kay Kyle (Negrito) and kay Pangs, kay Sato, actually sa lahat talaga ng nag-step up kasi ang hirap ng trabaho na ginagawa nila and yung pressure na dinadala nila. Pero eto dinala rin nila kami sa goal na gusto namin,” said Galanza, who emerged as the best outside spiker of the conference.

The former Adamson stalwart had her Most Valuable Player run in the 2019 Open Conference, stepping up to lead Creamline’s first tournament sweep as De Guzman and Alyssa Valdez missed some games due to their Philippine women’s volleyball team duties.

Galanza was also instrumental in the Cool Smashers’ eight-game sweep in last year’s Open Conference and delivered in two final games against the Flying Titans this year to accomplish their third and sweetest perfect campaign.

Even a lethargic first-set loss and a late comeback threat from Choco Mucho in Game 2 didn’t stop Galanza and Creamline from going all the way to the top.

“Ayaw lang namin matapos ‘tong laro namin na hindi kami yung mananalo. Kasi ang dami na naming pinagdaanan, ang dami na naming pagod, pressure, sobrang bigat na nung nafe-feel ng team namin kasi ang dami talagang adjustments. Parang ayaw lang namin masayang yung maliit na bagay na yun. Talagang kahit isang point na lang yung kalaban, kailangan naming i-panalo. Kailangan naming makuha,” she said.

Creamline remained as the most successful PVL club with seven titles but Galanza wants more, hoping the Cool Smashers would continue to play with the same core next season.

“Sana madami pang championship na magkakasama tayo walang iwanan and mag-grow pa (tayo) and sa lahat din ng nilaro namin this season marami kaming matutunan,” she said.