In the fast-paced and pressure-packed game of volleyball, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.
The Creamline Cool Smashers realized this in their four-set win over Motolite, 13-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-23, earlier in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center.
After an uncharacteristic opening set loss due to their reception woes, Creamline regained form in the next two sets as they finally set up plays and stepped up their floor defense.
Despite a late-game comeback by Motolite with import Channon Thompson leading the way, the Cool Smashers eventually clinched the victory after a crucial service error by Motolite setter Fen Emnas.
While they clinched their third win of the season to take the second spot in the team standings, team captain Alyssa Valdez and setter Jia Morado say the Cool Smashers are still far from perfection.
Creamline was left in shock in the first set as they couldn’t seem to get their rhythm amid a strong service game by Motolite, who finished the game with 18 service aces.
However, Valdez said returning coach Tai Bundit told them to step up their defensive game and bring back the team’s trademark ‘happy, heartstrong’ mantra to help them snatch the win.
“I think we knew what we were doing wrong in the first set, which was the reception–Jia couldn’t set it up to our spikers. We really focused on how we can do better in receiving, and it was better naman from the second to the fourth sets,” Valdez said.
The national team mainstay admitted Motolite played stellar in the opening set, with their local players and foreign reinforcements scoring at will to pose a threat against the defending champions.
As a response, the Cool Smashers followed Bundit’s game plan–to make the imports work and target areas in the court that would cause reception problems for Motolite.
For Valdez, these little things were crucial for Creamline to finally vanquish a gritty Motolite team.
“For me, nung first set, one-two punch talaga sila–anything you set up to their imports and locals, puntos. Maganda receive nila, and grabe yung services nila. I think that’s why they’re doing good in the first set,” Valdez said.
“But Coach Tai was really specific in his instruction to target the imports and target the zones para mas mapagod sila and mahirapan sila sa pagse-set up. Little things talaga na hindi talaga makakatulong, pero at the end of the day, when you add it up, iyon pa pala ‘yung makakapagpapanalo sa amin,” she added.
While the Cool Smashers achieved victory over their younger opponents, Valdez recognized Motolite’s talent and said the team could give problems for the rest of the tournament if they played as they did at the beginning of the game.
“We saw Motolite in the first set–if they played like that for the whole conference, they’re really unstoppable,” Valdez said.
Facing the Balipure Water Defenders for their last assignment in the first round, Morado said the Cool Smashers still need to be on high alert and play all out regardless of their opponents.
She added that Creamline should reevaluate their play after their game against Motolite, saying they need to play wiser and more efficient if they want to continue posing dominance in the conference.
“Paghahandaan pa rin naman sila like how they’re going to prepare for us. We can’t sleep on their imports, we can’t sleep on their locals kasi pag pinagsama-sama sila and dinagdag silang lahat, mahirap silang pigilan,” Morado said.
“We just need to work on a stronger start, be more consistent, and be more efficient and smarter when we play in our next games,” she ended.