Valdez banks on teammates to lead Creamline to semis


Creamline captain Alyssa Valdez prepares to serve against Pocari Sweat. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – As she braces for a tough training camp in Japan with the national women’s volleyball team, Alyssa Valdez is keeping her faith in her Creamline teammates to lead the club to the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference.

Valdez has been superb as usual for the Cool Smashers, averaging 27 points per game in their first four assignments – all victories for Creamline. The only unbeaten team in the tournament so far, Creamline remains on track for a spot in the Final 4, but will have to make do without Valdez in their final three elimination round games.

“I’m really confident sa teammates ko,” Valdez told reporters after scoring 30 points in a four-set win over defending champion Pocari Sweat on Saturday evening.

“Si Cheska (Racraquin), biglang pinasok today, nag-deliver. Nand’yan naman ‘yung veteran presence ni Ate Ging (Balse), and’yan si Jia (Morado), si Pau (Soriano),” she pointed out.

[I’m really confident in my teammates. Cheska came in today and delivered. Ate Ging provides the veteran presence, and Jia and Pau are also there.]

Racraquin had five points in the final two sets, coming in for Rizza Mandapat who was ineffective early on. Soriano notched 15 points, including the match-winning kill block against Pocari star Myla Pablo, and Morado orchestrated the Creamline offense to the tune of 50 excellent sets.

Rose Vargas contributed 10 points and 12 excellent receptions for the Cool Smashers.

However, Creamline will need to get even bigger numbers from their support group with Valdez gone. The reigning Reinforced Conference MVP leaves for Japan on Monday along with the national team for a rigorous training camp that lasts until August 2.

She is set to miss Creamline’s games against the Power Smashers, University of the Philippines, and the Perlas Spikers. The Cool Smashers need to get at least one more win in order to avoid a playoff for the last spot in the semifinals, scheduled for August 2 – the same day Valdez returns from the Japan camp.

Valdez says she has full confidence that her teammates will be able to clinch the Final 4 berth even without her.

“Lalaban at lalaban sila para magkakasama pa kami na maglalaro sa semifinals,” she said.

[They’re going to fight hard so we can all play together in the semifinals.]

The PVL Open Conference semifinals is a best-of-three affair. Should Creamline make it, Valdez is expected to play in the first two games of the series. However, should the Final 4 go to a deciding Game 3, the “Phenom” will likely miss the contest as it will be held on August 9, the same day as the opening of the AVC Asian Women’s Senior Volleyball Championship.

“I’m looking forward na makakalaro pa ako with my teammates, kasi ang babalikan ko ay semifinals na,” says Valdez.

[I’m looking forward to playing with my teammates again in the semifinals.]

In the meantime, Valdez is turning her attention to the Japan camp, which the national team will use to beef up their preparation for the AVC tilt as well as the Southeast Asian Games.

“Japan is well known for their fast play, good defense, floor defense,” said Valdez. “Overall, they’re very good at volleyball. I want to learn their discipline and how they take care of themselves.”

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