Despite a short preparation and absence of star players, Creamline is tipped to go all out to win the title in the AVC Cup for Women that unwrapped yesterday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Philippine National Volleyball Federation national team commission chief Tonyboy Liao said the Cool Smashers are no token team as they are serious in winning the prestigious continental tourney despite various setbacks that came their way.
The Cool Smashers are clashing with Southeast Asian rival Vietnam at press time following China’s emphatic 25-9, 25-8, 25-9 victory over a young South Korea squad in the opening salvo.
Zhang Yushan delivered 13 points built on 11 kills and two aces while Zhou Yetong chipped in 11 markers for the Chinese, who hardly broke a sweat against the Korean side that is composed of high school students.
Actually, the honor of representing the country in the AVC Cup doesn’t belong to the Cool Smashers.
The national squad, which was bannered by the core of National University, was supposed to see action, but the leadership of the PNVF sacked the Lady Bulldogs after they declined the last-minute invitation to play in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League recently.
With that, the PNVF tapped the PVL Invitational Conference champion — Creamline — to represent the country against the best teams in Asia like China, Vietnam, Japan and Thailand.
Unfortunately for the Cool Smashers, star player Alyssa Valdez contracted dengue while veteran Jia de Guzman, Risa Sato and coach Sherwin Meneses were placed on health protocols.
Unheralded Rizza Mandapat replaced Valdez, the most seasoned international campaigner in the Creamline roster, while Lorie Bernardo subbed in for Sato.
Still, Liao believes that the Cool Smashers have what it takes to pull off an upset against Asian giants.
“They trained for the tournament. I don’t think they will go down that easily. This team is already used to competition,” said Liao, who is also the commissioner of the PVL.
“This will be their first time playing as a team for the Philippines. Given this chance to play against the other national teams, I hope they will be able to play really well.”
Liao said the Cool Smashers will be coming in confident after knocking out KingWhale Taipei in the sudden-death PVL finals.
They will also parade a solid core of Most Valuable Players Tots Carlos and Celine Domingo as well as veterans Michele Gumabao and Jema Galanza.
Liao hopes that Creamline will win a match to gain a playoff spot.
“The aim is to get at least one win. There are five teams in the group. Those in Pool B have already qualified after Kazakhstan pulled out,” Liao said.
“They have to get at least a win or they will wind up at ninth place.”