Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses never doubted skipper Alyssa Valdez’s ability to deliver crucial hits under duress.
The Cool Smashers winger proved that she could still pull the trigger despite coming back from a knee injury she sustained late last year with a vintage performance that put the defending champions in a good position to advance to the finals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
Valdez was the catalyst in Creamline’s epic 12-25, 25-15, 23-25, 30-28, 15-7 come-from-behind win over archrival F2 Logistics on Thursday to start the round robin semifinals at the Philsports Arena in San Juan.
Her heroics especially in the extended fourth set when the Cargo Movers made a desperate run from 10 points down and threatened to close out the match drew Meneses’ admiration.
“Of course, we miss her presence inside the court after Ly was out for a long time. But we trust her and we know that she will deliver,” Meneses said.
“Alyssa is Alyssa. She has proven it in countless games. We’re really not that surprised.”
The 30-year-old skipper showed composure and nerves of steel in the fourth frame to fend off F2 Logistics’ rally.
After squandering a 20-10 lead as the Cargo Movers unleashed a 15-4 run to move at match point, Valdez calmly smashed an off the block hit to put the Cool Smashers back in front following an error by F2 Logistics.
Valdez gave Creamline a 28-27 lead, the Cargo Movers equalized one last time before folding. Smelling blood, the Cool Smashers finished off their exhausted rivals after blowing the decider wide-open with a 9-1 start.
Valdez finished with 17 points and eight digs, playing as a starter in the match that lasted two hours and 24 minutes witnessed by a 7,018-strong crowd.
Not bad for an open spiker who last December went down with a right knee injury in the Reinforced Conference battle for third and went through a procedure last February that forced her to sit out the entire All-Filipino Conference.
“It’s been a while since I played this kind of game also, especially in the semifinals. All the teams are playing all out, so I’m happy that all my hard work for the past eight months has been doing wonders in my game. I’ll just continue with what I’m doing but I think more than that, it’s the support of my team,” Valdez said.
The three-time Most Valuable Player was grateful for her teammates’ support which helped her bounce back.
“They never let me feel sidelined. Why am I being so dramatic? But it’s really the support of the team. I’m inspired to keep on going because of them,” she said.
Unbeaten Creamline, sporting a 2-0 win-loss carryover semis record, faces Cignal today.