WITH arguably the best local player and a pair of talented imports, Creamline is eyeing no less than a title right in its first stint in the Premier Volleyball League Reinforced Conference unfolding on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Alyssa Valdez, a many-time conference MVP in the league, former Oregon State star Laura Schaudt and Thai national player Kuttika Kaewpin make up the fearsome triumvirate in in a team blessed with both youth and experience.
"With Alyssa around and with Pau Soriano and a mix of youth and veterans, I think we have a fighting team,” said assistant coach Oliver Almadro.
“But what’s important is the teamwork. Even if you have a strong lineup, what's important is the teamwork and the camaraderie and the positive outlook of the team."
Their strength will be tested right in the opener when Creamline slugs it out with the Perlas side composed of former UP and Ateneo stalwarts and backstopped by Brazilian Rupia Inck and Japanese Naoko Hashimoto in the 6 p.m. main game.
But focus will be on the crisp-spiking Valdez, long considered as the country’s premier player who honed and toughened up for the event with a stint with 3BB Nakornnont in the Thailand league early this year.
Almadro said Valdez, who has seen action with BaliPure and Customs, has been sharing her expertise with her new teammates and will remain as the team’s leader.
"Alyssa is very helpful with her teammates. Lahat ng natutunan niya (in Thailand), she shares with her teammates. Malaking bagay sa team kapag mayroon kang leader and player na may experience and she's really willing to share it with the team," added Almadro.
The Cool Smashers will also be pinning their hopes on the 6-5 Schaudt, who played for five years with Oregon State, including a stint in the US NCAA Volley Sweet 16 in 2014, and Kaewpin.
"Laura is an opposite spiker. Her experience in Division 1 sa US will put the team in good stead while Kaewpin will also be providing experience, aside from power and intensity,” said Almadro.
Meanwhile, BaliPure, bannered by many-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones and import Jennyfer Keddy, tangles with Air Force in the 2 p.m. opener while Pocari Sweat kicks off its title-retention campaign against the Power Smashers at 4 p.m.