PVL: Creamline nears semis seat behind Alyssa Valdez's return to starting unit

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Alyssa Valdez going for an attack against Erika Santos
PHENOM IN ACTION. Alyssa Valdez starred for Creamline's straight-set victory over PLDT in her second start in the 2023 PVL All-Filipino Conference to keep their unbeaten record. PHOTO: PVL Media Bureau
Creamline fans have been asking coach Sherwin Meneses to put Alyssa Valdez back in the starting six for a while and let her play longer.
The former Adamson University Lady Falcons mentor answered the call.
Not only it hyped the over 9,000 fans inside the Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center at Cagayan de Oro, but also allowed the Cool Smashers to secure their seventh win in a row at the expense of gutsy PLDT.
Valdez's 13 points helped Creamline maintain their pole position with an unblemished 7-0 record after blanking the gutsy High Speed Hitters, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19, in the ongoing 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Second All-Filipino Conference on Saturday night, November 18.
The Phenom, who led Ateneo de Manila University to back-to-back University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) titles in Seasons 76 and 77, only started once for Creamline in her team's five-set triumph over Petro Gazz Angels, delivering a previous conference-high eight markers before Meneses decided to bench her in the F2 match, which they still won in straight sets.
In their previous six matches, Valdez averaged 3.83 points per game in limited playing minutes.
Meneses told reporters in a press conference after their 25-19, 25-21, 25-16 win over the Cargos Movers that he benched Valdez for other players to gain more playing time and look for possible combinations in the 11-game elimination round.
"There are players who left and players who joined us this conference. We're really looking at the players who've been performing well in practice. Alyssa is in good condition today. It's just that we have given players like [Bernadeth] Pons a chance to play today. Let's see what it's going to be next game but Alyssa is Alyssa, she's going to return. She's still the heart and soul of the Cool Smashers," Meneses said.
"Alyssa is 100 percent healthy this conference. Maybe we're just discovering some good rotations this conference and it's beneficial if the playing time is distributed. So let's see what's we're going to do in the next games."
Regardless of her playing time, Valdez remains Creamline's heart and soul, Meneses reiterated.
"Siya pa rin talaga ang heart and soul talaga ng Creamline."
Starting for the second time in the season-ending conference in front of exactly 9,862 spectators, Valdez ensured to pay Meneses' trust by leading the Cool Smashers at both ends of the floor in her first full game this conference. The three-time PVL Most Valuable Player uncorked 12 attacks and a block while listing 10 excellent receptions for a double-double finish as Creamline zoomed closer to a semifinal berth.
Valdez, in an interview, said everyone in the Cool Smashers roster was willing to accept the roles given to them, citing its advantage in the long run.
"Whatever role that's given to us in this team, we'll take it. As of now, that's the role we need to play and I think it's a nice healthy competition also in our team. It's an advantage especially since it's a very long [conference]," Valdez stated.
"I'm happy that I was able to contribute to the team somehow. While I'm used to playing every game, but health is wealth. We want that we're still eager up until the end. Patience is a virtue and we just have to help each other. When we are called, we'll do our role."
Jema Galanza added 12 points, five digs, and five receptions while Michele Gumabao contributed 10 markers. Setter Kyle Negrito had 15 excellent sets on top of a six-point outing.
Tots Carlos only played in the second set, churning out four points, while Pons didn't play as Creamline continued their dominance amid losing key players in Jia Morado-De Guzman and Ced Domingo.
De Guzman left the six-time PVL champion to play for Denso Airybees in Japan V. League Division 1 Season 2023-2024, while Domingo currently suits up for reigning Volleyball Thailand League (VTL) champion Nakhon Ratchasima.
Creamline can secure a semifinal slot come Thursday, November 23, 4 pm, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City when they take on Nxled Chameleons – searching for their third consecutive dub.
PLDT, meanwhile, fell to their second game in a row for a 5-3 win-loss card in fifth place.
US NCAA product Savannah Davison paced the High Speed Hitters with 14 points and 17 receptions, while Erika Santos chimed in 11 markers in a losing effort.
Rald Benson Ricafort's side will try to stop their slump against a rampaging Choco Mucho Flying Titans – riding a six-game winning streak for a 6-1 slate after losing their opener against sister team Cool Smashers – on the same date and venue as the Creamline-Nxled match at 6 pm.

Last Modified: 2023-Nov-20 09.39.50 UTC+0800