With an intact lineup and championship experience under their belt, it is no surprise that Creamline Cool Smashers is considered one of the top contenders for the maiden professional season of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).
But Cool Smashers top spiker Alyssa Valdez stressed that they are not minding the pressure of being the team to beat in the upcoming Open Conference, explaining that they will be sticking with the team's game plan.
According to Valdez, she will be trusting her coaches and teammates as they campaign for yet another V-League title despite the short and limited preparations due to the threat of COVID-19.
"We have to stick with the game plan even if our training program or 'yung process ng training namin was cut short this time. From how many months of preparing before to actually two months of training ngayon, so very different din. But I think we just really have to trust our coaches and our teammates also, and lahat ng mga pinaghirapan namin dito, and give it our all lang pagdating sa mga games," she said.
Veteran setter Jia Morado echoed her teammate's response, saying that they trained to do their best as a team.
Morado further quipped that it would not be beneficial for Creamline to think of the pressure, especially now that they have been away from training for a long time.
"We've been away from training for so long so it's not going to do us any good if we put pressure to ourselves like that kasi nakakailang competitions naman kami na ganun," she said.
"The easiest way to handle that is to just not think about it and just to train, and be the best that we can every game, every point, and everything."
But just like other players, Valdez expressed her excitement to return to action after a long delay caused by the pandemic.
"Siguro understatement din talaga 'yung 'pag sinabi naming super, super excited kami. But I totally agree with Jia, iba rin 'yung sacrifices na binigay ng mga atleta, bawat staff, the PVL itself," she added.
Asked about the team to watch out for, Valdez declined to give a specific opponent but admitted that they are putting an extra eye on the newly-joined teams in the league.
"I honestly think na lahat talaga, we have to watch out for every team, lalong-lalo na 'yung ibang teams hindi pa rin namin nakakalaban. 'Yung ibang teams may mga nadadagdag, may mga additional na players also, so we really have to prepare for every team," she said.
Six teams will immediately plunge into action when the first-ever professional volleyball league in the Philippines opens its first conference on Saturday in Ilocos Norte.
The league, which turned professional in November 2020, initially planned to start its Open Conference in May in a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
However, those plans had to be shelved after the government imposed stricter quarantine measures in NCR Plus due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.