MANILA, Philippines – After a sensational run in the preliminary round of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference, the Creamline Cool Smashers are on the brink of elimination in the semifinals.
Barging into the Final 4 as the top seed after winning six of their seven games in the eliminations, the Cool Smashers were comprehensively outplayed by the fourth-seeded Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors in Game 1 of their best-of-3 series on Sunday.
Skipper Alyssa Valdez was repeatedly blocked at the net and was inefficient in her attacks, while the thunderous swings of Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin were rendered silent as well by the Pocari blockers.
None of Creamline’s heralded local crew could pick up the slack, and new import Laura Schaudt slumped to a one-point performance.
Meanwhile, Pocari import Arielle Love was unstoppable, unloading 20 points in the Lady Warriors’ 25-23, 25-12, 25-23 triumph. With the result, the powerhouse Cool Smashers are now on the ropes heading into Game 2 on Wednesday.
“We were not really expecting na ganoon ‘yung ilalaro namin,” Valdez said honestly after their loss, which took just an hour and 17 minutes at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. “We were really expecting na (Pocari) Air Force will give a good fight.”
“They did, so we really have to make those little adjustments going into the next game,” she added.
Though their performance left much to be desired, Valdez refused to be too bothered. “Natalo, pero it’s really not a bad loss for the team,” she insisted.
She acknowledged that rust was a factor, as practice games do not carry the same pressure as actual matches. Though they play against tough teams during scrimmages, those games do not take place in packed arenas, nor do they carry any real stakes.
“’Yung environment na pinaglalaruan namin, hindi ganitong karami ang tao,” Valdez said. “Iba ‘yung environment. Very competitive naman ‘yung nakaka-practice and nakaka-tune-up namin.”
“But I guess, ganyan talaga ‘yung volleyball,” she added. “You can’t say who’s going to win. It comes down to who wants it more, and siguro, Pocari really wanted to win today.”
If they hope to force a deciding game for a spot in the finals, the Cool Smashers will have to match the Lady Warriors’ desire and tenacity, said Valdez. They will have to regain the momentum that they built in the preliminary round and seemed to have lost during the three-week break between PVL games.
“More than anything, we’re going to accept all the changes and adjustments na needed para maka-survive ‘yung team namin,” said Valdez, who finished with 16 points in the Game 1 loss.
“Ang tagal din naming nawala, and kailangan din namin ng magfa-fire, and magfu-fuel sa amin para makuha ‘yung momentum na kailangan namin,” she stressed.
“Sabi nga nila, mas marami kaming matututunan sa mga talo. Hopefully, ‘yun ‘yung makukuha namin sa talo na ‘to.”
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