MANILA, Philippines -- Creamline has established itself as the standard in Philippine club volleyball in recent years but the Cool Smashers are now looking forward to measuring themselves against foreign teams.
The Cool Smashers ruled the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference earlier this year and topped the elimination round of the Invitational Conference with a 5-1 win-loss record, their lone blemish a four-set loss to Cignal HD.
They open their semifinal campaign on Thursday against Army Black Mamba.
Guest clubs KingWhale Taipei and Kobe Shinwa Women's University will join the competition next week.
"[We're] very excited," Creamline captain Alyssa Valdez said of the prospect of playing the foreign teams. "As a team, this is the first time na makakapaglaro kami against international teams."
"We're very excited as a team, and I feel like mas marami kaming matutunan talaga," she added.
The local PVL clubs are somewhat familiar with Kobe Shinwa, which has already played as a guest team in the Philippine Superliga some years back. Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses said they expect that the Japanese team will be a strong side.
"Isa ang sistema nila, from youth to national team," Meneses said.
KingWhale Taipei is lesser known but Meneses anticipates that they will also pose a challenge to the PVL teams.
"'Yung Taiwan is talagang wala kaming idea. Pero based sa country nila, siyempre mataas ang rank nila sa atin. So I think malakas din, mataas din," he said. "Pero siyempre, naka-prepare naman kami sa kanila."
The semifinals will be a round-robin affair, with the top two teams facing off in a championship match while the third and fourth-ranked squads play for the bronze.
For Valdez, playing against the foreign clubs should only make the Cool Smashers stronger.
"Mas magiging strong pa 'yung team namin sa mga next na upcoming games. Very excited lang," she said. "We're really looking forward na mas marami kaming matutunan, at na makalaban sila kasi we need the experience eh."
After playing Army on Thursday, Creamline will take on PLDT on Saturday. They will play Kobe Shinwa on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena, and KingWhale Taipei on August 10 in San Juan.