MANILA, Philippines – With the best local player and a pair of talented imports, Creamline is eyeing no less than a crown in its very first stint in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, which unfolds on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Alyssa Valdez, a multiple-time V-League MVP, will team up with former Oregon State University star Laura Schaudt and Thai national player Kuttika Kaewpin to form a "Big Three" for Creamline.
With a slew of young players and veterans as back-ups, the Cool Smashers are poised for an explosive debut in the Reinforced Conference.
"With Alyssa around and with Pau Soriano and a mix of youth and veterans, I think we will have a fighting team," said assistant coach Oliver Almadro.
"But what's important is teamwork," he stressed. "Even if you have a strong line-up, what's important is the teamwork and the camaraderie, the positive outlook of the team."
Their strength will be tested right from the get-go, as Creamline opens its campaign against a Perlas squad that is composed of former Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines stalwarts, backed up by Brazilian Rupia Inck and Japanese setter Naoko Hashimoto in the 6 p.m. main game.
The focus remains on Valdez, long considered as the country's best player, who has been further honed by a stint in the Thailand League with 3BB Nakornnont earlier this year.
Almadro said that Valdez has been sharing her expertise with her new teammates, and will remain as the team's leader when they mix it up with five other teams in the season-opening conference.
"Alyssa is very helpful with her teammates. Lahat ng natutunan niya (in Thailand), she shares with her teammates. Malaking bagay sa team kapag mayroon kang leader and player na may experience and she's really willing to share it with the team," said Almadro.
[It's a big deal for us to have an experienced leader who is willing to share it with the team.]
The Cool Smashers will also be pinning their hopes on the 6-5 Schaudt, who played for five years with the Oregon State, including a stint in the US NCAA Volleyball Tournament's Sweet 16 in 2014, and Kaewpin.
"Laura is an opposite spiker. Her experience in Division 1 sa US will put the team in good stead while Kaewpin will also be providing experience, aside from power and intensity,” said Almadro.
Meanwhile, BaliPure, bannered by many-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones and import Jennyfer Keddy, tangles with Air Force in the 2 p.m. opener while Pocari Sweat kicks off its title-retention campaign against the Power Smashers at 4 p.m.
Matches will be aired live on S+A Channel 23 and on livestream at www.sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream.
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