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Creamline wary of opposition

Creamline is in for a rough ride as it begins its title-retention bid in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference which is set to go off the wraps on 4 February at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Although the Cool Smashers are still considered a team to beat, head coach Sherwin Meneses sees the season-opening tournament as a wide-open race following a massive build-up by rival clubs.

“All teams have prepared well for this conference and most beefed up their respective rosters during the offseason,” Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses said Saturday during the league’s press conference at the Discovery Suites in Pasig City.

The Cool Smashers are the only team parading the same lineup as the previous season but will be facing an early challenge with skipper and main gunner Alyssa Valdez expected to be out for at least four weeks as she recovers from a knee injury she sustained during last year’s Reinforced Conference battle for third.

Creamline, which shoots to complete a grand slam after falling short last season, will begin its campaign against Petro Gazz on opening day in a rematch of last year’s Open Conference finals.
Meneses remains confident that the Cool Smashers will be ready to defend its crown.

“We are ready to take on any team. Other teams have recruited new players. Some teams have changed their systems under new coaches. But then let’s see (how we will fare) in the AFC,” Meneses said.

Even with Valdez sidelined, Creamline will still have a formidable cast behind Most Valuable Player Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Ced Domingo and prized setter Jia Morado.

Choco Mucho, Akari and F2 Logistics could pose the biggest threats to the Cool Smashers’ reign.

Former national men’s team coach and multi-titled mentor Dante Alinsunurin are expected to weave his magic into a Flying Titans side bannered by Kat Tolentino, Des Cheng and playmaker Deanna Wong.

Akari, on the other hand, will have the veteran presence of Dindin Santiago-Manabat while the Cargo Movers under new coach Regine Diego is tipped to bring fire with a recruit in multi-awarded winger Myla Pablo.

Reinforced Conference champion Petro Gazz and its runner-up Cignal are also raring to knock Creamline off the throne as well as PLDT, Chery Tiggo and Philippine Army.

Meanwhile, the league will revert to its traditional pre- and post-game volleyball rituals.

With eased health protocols players are now allowed to shake hands before and after matches while teams can now switch courts after each set.

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