MANILA, Philippines — Alyssa Valdez and the Creamline Cool Smashers continue to bank on their familiarity and coach Sherwin Meneses’ system against the hard-fighting Choco Mucho Flying Titans in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-Filipino Conference Finals.
Choco Mucho may be a first-timer in the PVL finals but Valdez said that their sister team, bannered by former UAAP stars Sisi Rondina and Maddie Madayag, pushed them to their limits in Game 1 before they pulled off a hard-earned 25-23, 19-25, 26-24, 25-22 victory on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena,
“I guess knowing Choco Mucho, most of the players, they played in the UAAP championships. They played in big stadiums, so they are used to it even with the crowd,” said Valdez, who had 11 points, 11 digs, and eight receptions.
Full trust in the system
Creamline Cool Smashers in the PVL All-Filipino Conference Finals. –PVL PHOTO
The Flying Titans put up a gallant stand in every set but the Cool Smashers still prevailed as they showcased their championship experience and strong bond.
“But for us, we’re really banking on the system instilled by coach since day one, since last year. We really give our full trust to the system,” the three-time PVL MVP said.
“Honestly, I’m very, very proud of everyone because all of us stepped up, whoever coach fielded. Coach had a great tactical strategy during the game.
The 30-year-old Valdez credited Meneses, who motivated them to play their hearts out and trust each other, as their coach’s pre-game talk spelled the difference in Game 1 to stay unbeaten in the tournament with 14 straight wins and remained unscathed against Choco Mucho in their 10th meeting.
Jema Galanza, who joined hands with Tots Carlos in leading the way in Game 1, admitted that the Flying Titans gave them a tough challenge, thanking Valdez for providing the clutch kills in the third set to bring the momentum to their side.
“I’m so thankful to my teammates because they didn’t give up, especially clutch queen [Valdez]. She gave life to Creamline in the third set. She woke us up and if not for here, we might still be playing [another set] or even lose,” said Galanza in Filipino. “We still have a lot to work on so we can play better in Game 2.”
Valdez relished their first-ever Finals duel against Choco Mucho, hoping to complete their perfect run despite missing Japan V.League setter Jia De Guzman and Nakhon Ratchasima middle blocker Ced Domingo.
“I guess it’s a different challenge for us this championship because it’s our first time to face our sister team and we all know they improved a lot. Different challenge and different motivation this finals,” Valdez said.
The Cool Smashers eye to complete an All-Filipino ‘three-peat’ in Game 2 against the Flying Titans on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.