Creamline has long been a powerhouse in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL), flexing a deep talent bannered by Alyssa Valdez in its roster for years now.
This tournament, Second All-Filipino Conference of the 2023 season, is no different. And against their sister team Choco Mucho Flying Titans, the Cool Smashers showed that depth once more.
Sans starting middle blocker Ced Domingo as well as libero Kyla Atienza and with Valdez and Tots Carlos seeing limited action, it was Bernadeth Pons' turn to take the spotlight.
Pons fired 22 points and 11 digs to lead Creamline to a conference-opening 25-18, 25-16, 24-26, 25-21 win before 14,014 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, October 15.
Michele Gumabao likewise came through as she added 20 points while Jema Galanza put up 11 points and 15 digs.
Valdez, a three-time PVL MVP, couldn't help but marvel at the depth and unpredictability of the Cool Smashers.
“I think to add to coach Sherwin's thoughts, I think that's what makes our team different this conference, it's very unpredictable. We don't know who's going to play because everyone deserves a spot on the team,” said Valdez, who tallied four points and four receptions.
“I think that's the beauty of the Cool Smashers and and everyone's really stepping up whenever they're being fielded in by coach Sherwin. So, I guess that's a good problem for coach Sherwin and hopefully that would be our advantage this conference.”
Valdez also commended Kyle Negrito, who had herself a good start as the team's main setter following the departure of Jia De Guzman, who's taken her talents to Japan V. League.
“But I'm really just going to commend Kyle for today's game with so much pressure, she did well.”
Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses said keeping his team healthy is one of his top priorities, and so giving limited action to his top aces like Carlos and Valdez is going to help the team in the long run.
“It's really a long conference and it would be great if we enter the semis or however far we reach that we're healthy,” said Meneses, who shared that the reason Atienza did not play is because she's nursing an injury.
Domingo, on the other hand, just had a tooth extraction.
“The most important thing for us is to be healthy every game. It's great that the team really helped each other today. It doesn't look good when we're forcing things and laying it all on the line in just the first game. There are 10 more games. There's a long way to go.”
The Cool Smashes will next face the Cignal HD Spikers in Batangas on October 21.
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