MANILA, Philippines—For Creamline setter Jia Morado, her team's preparation for the upcoming season of the Premier Volleyball League brought back memories of her collegiate days.
The Cool Smashers trained for the PVL Open Conference in a "bubble" set-up at the St. Paul American School in Clark starting late April, a stretch that saw them do twice-a-day practices.
"Before the pandemic, once a day lang kami. Early morning, six to nine a.m., then we're free the rest of the day," Morado said on the "Post-Game" podcast.
"But dito, it's like the Thailand training camp na from three weeks, naging two months. Grabe, as in feel na feel namin na college na tayo ulit. Literally, eat, sleep, volleyball talaga," she added.
When she played collegiate volleyball for the Ateneo Lady Eagles, Morado and her teammates regularly went to Thailand for camp in the preseason to prepare them for the rigors of the UAAP.
But this was an entirely different scenario that came with its own challenges for Morado and the Cool Smashers.
"It was fun, it's enjoyable," she said. "But siyempre, maraming challenges din within the bubble. Being away from your family, not being able to do the usual things that you can do."
Yet Morado also credits this camp for preparing Creamline for their defense of their PVL Open Conference title. The Cool Smashers start their campaign on Saturday evening against Sta. Lucia.
It will be their first taste of volleyball action in almost two years; Morado's last game was all the way back in December 2019, during the Southeast Asian Games.
"It's difficult kasi there's no scouting. Walang way to scout your opponents. If anything, we're the ones at a disadvantage," Morado noted.
Creamline welcomed some new faces over the offseason: Tots Carlos, Jeanette Panaga, and Ella de Jesus. But as Morado points out, their core remained the same, with her as the setter and star spiker Alyssa Valdez, as well as middle blocker Risa Sato.
"Coach Tai (Bundit) made us well aware of that naman, and that's why we had to go through the college Thailand training camp for the past two to three months," she said.
"As much as we've done everything to prepare, we can't take that away also from the other teams who have done their best to prepare for this tournament," Morado added.
"It's going to be hard, it's going to be very challenging, but as usual, we're just... good vibes, play happy and try our best to get every point we can."
On the "Post-Game" podcast, Morado also discusses her "Every Little Thing Counts" fundraiser during the COVID-19 pandemic, how they kept in shape during the lockdown, and her expectations for the upcoming season of the PVL.
“Post-Game” is the ABS-CBN News sports podcast.
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