Alyssa Valdez and a loaded Creamline squad kick off their title bid with a confidence never seen in their past campaigns, taking on newcomer but promising Petro Gazz at the start of the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today.
Valdez has committed to stay for the Cool Smashers at the expense of playing abroad as an import this year with an eye on delivering the very first championship for Creamline following a couple of third place finishes in last year’s inaugural season.
This time, she has a solid, talented backup crew ready to rise to the challenge, including Jia Morado, Risa Sato, Melissa Gohing, Pau Soriano and reigning Binibining Pilipinas Ms. Globe Michele Gumabao along with Thai import Kuttika Kaewpin and Serbian reinforcement Nikolina Asceric.
“I’m excited to play because we have a good team, a very good one,” said Valdez, who missed key games last year after suiting up for 3BB Nakornnont in Thailand and Attack Line in Chinese Taipei and the national team.
“We know it’s going to be a tough season because all the teams are really strong. But our goal is to win the championship and we will do our best to win it,” said Valdez.
But Petro Gazz is also out to prove its worth this early and spoil Creamline with coach Jerry Yee to lean on veterans Wensh Tiu, Paneng Mercado, Chie Saet, Djanel Cheng, Cai Nepomuceno and Ranya Musa and reinforcements Kadi Kullerkannm of Estonia and Anastasia Trach of Ukraine.
“We have a solid core,” said Yee. “It’s a matter of putting in practice and finding cohesion at the right time.”
Game time is at 4 p.m.
Also on tap is the men’s division with Army and debuting Vice Co tangling at 10 a.m.
PayMaya, formerly PLDT, and Tacloban clash in the first game at 2 p.m. in a pair of explosive matches kicking off the two-and-a-half month-long league organized by Sports Vision, the group which revived the once-dormant sport and turned it to what it is today.
The PayMaya High Flyers will be handled by Roger Gorayeb and spearheaded by the likes of former many-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones, Gata Pantone, Angelica Cayuna, Jasmine Nabor, Jorelle Singh, Jerrili Malabanan and Alyssa Eroa, all coming from last year’s Open Conference champion BaliPure.
Gorayeb has added San Sebastian’s Kat Villegas and Joyce Sta. Maria and Far Eastern U’s Czarina Grace Carandang with imports Nicole Roundtree and Shelby Sullivan providing added firepower and poise.
But Tacloban coach Nes Pamilar is also upbeat of the Fighting Warays’ chance on a team built around reigning NCAA MVP Shola Alvarez and stars of NCAA champion team Arellano U headed by Jovielyn Prado, Regine Arocha and Mary Anne Esguerra.
Also suiting up for Tacloban are San Sebastian’s Vira Guillema, University of the East’s Judith Abil and FEU’s Kyle Negrito with Thai stars Amporn Hyapha and Sasiwilmol Sangpan as their imports.
Other teams seeing action are BaliPure-NU, Iriga-Navy, BanKo-Perlas and defending champion Pocari Sweat-Air Force.
Women’s games will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and via live stream, also the men’s matches, on www.sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/.
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10 a.m. – Army vs Vice Co (men’s)
2 p.m. – Tacloban vs PayMaya (women’s)
4 p.m. – Creamline vs Petro Gazz (women’s)