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Unyielding Determination Propels Creamline Legend

Staying true to its mantra of “one game at a time, one point at a time,” Creamline added to its Premier Volleyball League legend Saturday night with a triumph to remember over Choco Mucho that meant a second All-Filipino Conference crown this season and a third franchise sweep of a tournament.

“No words can express how proud I am with the effort that [we gave] today and every single game this conference,” team leader Alyssa Valdez, who punctuated a memorable night with the last two points of the marathon 22-25, 25-20, 29-27, 24-26, 15-12 win, said after sealing the Cool Smashers’ seventh league title.

“Our mantra this conference was one game at a time—literally—and one point at a time,” she went on after the win carved out before 24,459 fans—the most that watched a volleyball game in the country—at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“And we were able to manage that final point today so [I am] very, very proud.”

The champions were pushed to the proverbial limit by Choco Mucho, but Creamline’s overflowing championship experience and heart led by Valdez bailed the team out from a 3-6 deficit early in the final set.

“We didn’t want to end the game (as losers), because we’ve been through a lot,” Jema Galanza, who was hailed as one of the best outside spikers of the conference, said. “Even if [our opponent] needs just one more point, we need to win it back.”

Coach Sherwin Meneses, though, has an amusing assessment of why his Cool Smashers laid it all out on the floor in a game they simply refused to lose: “They didn’t want to go back to training tomorrow.”

The latest championship definitely will rank high up there for Valdez, who last played a title series game at the Big Dome in 2016, when her Ateneo crew bowed to bitter rival La Salle in the UAAP Finals.

“I’m very very grateful that I was given the opportunity to return to Araneta and always be in the Finals with this team. It was really a different experience in 2016 because I was still in college at that time and it was definitely a heartbreaking loss and one that I also won’t forget,” Valdez said.

But the three-time MVP’s (Most Valuable Player) heartbreak will now be replaced with a much better memory with this All-Filipino three-peat she literally had a hand in winning.

“I was able to replace that with a sweet memory, one of the sweetest memories that I have right now is this win at Araneta Coliseum, so I’m grateful to come back and see even more fans watching,” she added.

New A-lister

Losing two key parts of Creamline’s nucleus in Jia de Guzman, who is serving as a setter for Denso Airybees in Japan, and Ced Domingo, now a middle blocker for Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand, also allowed Meneses to explore just how far his second unit can take them.

Kyle Negrito was one of those who stepped up to be an A-lister, as she orchestrated the Creamline offense through turbulent waters all tournament long on the way to a 15-game sweep.

“This is the first time that I [was a vital figure] for a whole conference,” Negrito addressed the crowd.

And when asked who she wished to thank for her coming out tournament, Negrito was quick to say the name of Jia de Guzman, one of the stalwarts the team lost to the Japan league.