MANILA, Philippines—While Creamline’s Alyssa Valdez’s return from injury is still unclear, Jema Galanza is making sure to bring her “Ate Ly’s” leadership inside the court for the Cool Smashers.
After the squad’s four-set win over Chery Tiggo, 17-25, 25-11, 25-19, 25-21, in the Premiere Volleyball League’s All-Filipino Conference at Philsports Arena on Saturday, Galanza acknowledged the team’s hardships without Valdez on the playing field.
“Actually, in our games without Ate Ly, it’s kind of heavy because we don’t have our leader inside our court but she’s always telling me what I need to do inside. Take the responsibilities inside the court and feel the sport of volleyball to really let out your game,” told Galanza in Filipino.
She, who finished with 25 points, also revealed that she has received pointers from Valdez while rehabbing her ailing knee.
“She told me, if I’m enjoying it, I’m happy and I talk to them inside the court, that’s somehow leadership and it’s absorbed by the whole team. That’s what she tells me and I won’t forget it.”
On Saturday afternoon, Creamline revealed that Valdez underwent a “procedure” on her right knee. The exact procedure done and a timetable for her return were not disclosed.
But Valdez, always a constant presence in practices and games despite her injury, was seen watching her team from the sidelines in Pasig, but begged off from talking about her situation.
“It’s a big thing to be aware of our mistakes and have leadership inside even in training. Those types of gestures really wake us up. She [Valdez] talks to us 1-on-1, not just me but also Tots and Kyla so I don’t feel that she’s not there,” she said.
NOT YET TESTED
Coach Sherwin Meneses admitted that the Cool Smashers still have some ways to go before reaching their full potential, especially without their ace spiker.
“Of course, our team still needs to improve. Our first six have not been tested yet in long competitions. They were only tested in the AVC for one week. Let’s see how this program will help us. This league still has a month left so our team can still improve,” said the tactician.
“As of now, we’re good, maybe.”
Without the former Ateneo standout, Creamline is holding its own, securing the top spot in the conference as of writing with four wins and only one loss. Their sole loss came from F2 Logistics a week ago in a tight five-setter.
PLDT and the Cargo Movers are behind by just a game with 3-1 twin records.
Like Galanza, Meneses also reiterated Valdez’s instrumental presence for the Cool Smashers, stating she’s “still a leader” despite not being able to suit up for action.
“She’s there everyday. If she’s five minutes late (in practice), they’ll think about it. She’s always early even if her rehab is on the corner. She’s really a leader.”
The Cool Smashers look to keep a chokehold of the first seed when they face lowly Army-Black Mamba (0-4) on Tuesday at the same venue.
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