PVL teams get warm welcome in Cagayan de Oro

Players are met by fans as they arrived in Cagayan de Oro for a provincial game. –PVL PHOTO

CAGAYAN DE ORO — Defending champion Creamline, PLDT, Akari, and Gerflor received a warm welcome from their fans here ahead of their much-anticipated games on Saturday in the 2023 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) second All-Filipino Conference at Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center.

The four PVL squads paid a courtesy visit on Mayor Rolando Uy at Cagayan de Oro City Hall, where the league officials and staff led by President Ricky Palou and Chairman Tonyboy Liao had lunch, before taking their time to interact with their fans in a meet and greet.

Creamline, which remained unbeaten in six games despite missing overseas players Jia De Guzman and Ced Domingo, takes on the PLDT at 6 p.m.

Setter Kyle Negrito, who has been embracing a bigger role this conference, relished their chance to visit Cagayan De Oro, which is hosting the PVL for the first time.

“We’re very thankful to get this chance to play in different parts of the country,” said Negrito in Filipino as they play their second out-of-town game this conference, following their trip to Batangas last month.

The Cool Smashers coach Sherwin Meneses has been making the most of his deep spiker-rotation bannered by Tots Carlos, Michele Gumabao, Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, and Bernadeth Pons. 

Creamline got a big confidence boost from the past six games including a lopsided straight-set win over F2 Logistics ahead of its marquee duel but Meneses warned that they need to be wary of PLDT led by Savannah Davison.

“Those wins really boosted the team’s morale but knowing PLDT, they are a veteran team and they have a [talented] Filipino-Canadian spiker so we really have to prepare for them,” the Creamline coach said.

Negrito, who will have a head-to-head against veteran PLDT setter Rhea Dimaculangan, vows to continue giving her best for the Cool Smashers as their main playmaker throughout the conference, filling in the big shoes of De Guzman, who is playing for Denso in Japan V.League.

“My mindset is always to give my best, help my spikers, and execute our system,” she said.

PLDT, also bannered by middle blockers Mika Reyes and Dell Palomata, tries to rise from a four-set loss to Chery Tiggo last week and improve its 5-2 record in fifth place.

Meanwhile, Akari, which holds a 3-4 record in eighth place, seeks to end a three-game skid and stay in semifinal contention against the embattled Gerflor (0-7).

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Akari coach Jorge Souza de Brito hopes to regain its winning ways as he continues to instill his system in the young core players Faith Nisperos, Erika Raagas, Fifi Sharma, setter Michelle Cobb, and libero Justine Jazareño along with veterans Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Bang Pineda.

Life goes on for the also-ran Defenders, who are still facing financial issues with their management and under investigation by the PVL, as Jeanette Villareal, Menchie Tubiera, AJ Jingco, and Danika Gendrauli continue to hunt for their breakthrough win.

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