Completing a historic grand slam in the Premier Volleyball League remains to be the ultimate dream for multi-titled club Creamline.
Falling just a championship short in its first attempt last year, the Cool Smashers get another shot at a triple crown when the All-Filipino Conference hostilities blast off Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But head coach Sherwin Meneses knows that the road to a season sweep will be harder this time.
“All teams have prepared well for this season. Getting a grand slam would be a big achievement for us though we do not want our minds to be distracted by that,” Meneses said.
But if the opportunity presents itself, the mentor vows his players won’t let it slip away like it did last year.
Creamline dominated the Open and Invitational Conferences last year and was poised to make another run for the Reinforced Conference throne only to fall victim to misfortunes in the semifinals.
Heartbreaking set losses in the round-robin Final Four that affected their tiebreak cost the Cool Smashers the right to advance in the championship round of the import-laden conference that was eventually ruled by archrival Petro Gazz.
“If there would be another chance, we’ll grab it,” Meneses said.
“But as of now, we have to fight for every point. Not every set or every game. We’re talking about fighting for each point.”
While the rest of the 9-club field made significant movements during the offseason, Creamline opted to keep its lineup intact.
“I think that will be our biggest advantage. While other teams are adjusting with their new system and players, we’re able to continue with ours,” Meneses said.
“We’ve already built chemistry since we’ve been together for a while now. That’s our no. 1 game plan, to retain all our players.”
However, the crowd-darling would have to adjust in the absence of top hitter and skipper Alyssa Valdez.
Valdez is still recovering from a knee injury she sustained in the Reinforced Conference battle for third early December 2022 and is expected to sit out until at least the end of February.
“We just hope to have a better season compared to last year despite not having Alyssa in our first few games,” the mentor said.
Parading a star-studded roster, Creamline has no shortage of players willing to step up to the plate.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza and Michele Gumabao are ready to fill in the gap left by Valdez. Also raring to see action are prized setter Jia Morado, middles Jeanette Panaga, Ced Domingo and libero Kyla Atienza.
The Cool Smashers will be tested early when they open their campaign against the Angels on Saturday in a showdown of last year’s championship protagonists.