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Sister teams clash in V-Day special

There will be no Valentine’s Day concert this year at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But the Big Dome will surely rock as fans – thousands of them – will troop to the 63-years old Cubao venue with loud cheers and wild celebrations when crowd-drawing teams Creamline and Choco Mucho square off in a much-anticipated clash on Tuesday in the Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference.

The match which is expected to bring a record gate attendance is set at 6:30 p.m. following the 4 p.m. curtain-raiser encounter between winless teams Cignal and Akari.

Last year, the Creamline-Choco Mucho Reinforced Conference headliner drew a whopping 19,157 live audience at the Mall of Asia Arena – the biggest pre-pandemic PVL crowd so far.

The reigning champions Cool Smashers put their unblemished record on the line as they gun for a taste of the solo lead.

Creamline is currently in a three-way logjam at 2-0 win-loss record with F2 Logistics and Chery Tiggo.

Injured skipper Alyssa Valdez remains doubtful to see action for the Cool Smashers but head coach Sherwin Meneses remains confident that his star-studded and veteran-laden squad will get the job done against its sister club that has yet to win a game against them since joining the league in 2019.

“I’d say Choco Mucho really is a very tall team. But I think our advantage is the familiarity and chemistry of the team even without Ly,” Meneses said.

“Our team has already built a strong foundation. That’s what we tried to maintain with our team. That we’ll have the advantage of familiarity and chemistry inside and outside of the court.”

Creamline is fresh from a 25-16, 25-21, 25-15, victory over Cignal Thursday last week.

Michele Gumabao, who is averaging 13.5 points per game in her return in the starting rotation, and other wingers Jema Galanza and Tots Carlos will be the focus once again of setter Jia Morado-de Guzman on offense with middle Ced Domingo and Jeanette Panaga as other dangerous options to break the defensive wall of the taller Flying Titans.

Choco Mucho’s character, on the other hand, will be tested as it tries to bounce back from a 18-25, 20-25, 21-25, defeat at the hands of Petro Gazz last week.

Flying Titans mentor Dante Alinsunurin braces for a tough and hyped-up match against the Cool Smashers, handled by his good friend and national men’s volleyball team deputy Meneses.

“It will be the first time for us (Meneses) to play against each other in a women’s league. What is important right now is for us to focus on our teams and try to take advantage of whatever edge we have,” Alinsunurin said.

The soft-spoken mentor also acknowledges that the crowd will play a huge role in the match.

“Although I’ve already experienced playing with a huge crowd during the SEA (Southeast Asian) Games, I guess I have to be more aggressive in my coaching style. I would have to be louder in giving instructions because for sure we won’t be able to hear each other with a very loud crowd in the background,” he said.

“I hope we’ll be more consistent with how we play this time and be better with our service receive.”

Kat Tolentino, Isa Molde, Des Cheng and twin towers Maddie Madayag and Bea de Leon will be the main weapons of Choco Mucho in their search for a breakthrough win over Creamline.

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