Happy for Jia in Japan, Creamline Cool Smashers ready to soldier on

Sherwin Meneses Creamline PVL

FILE–Creamline coach Sherwin Meneses talks to his players during a timeout.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Creamline would have to soldier on and defend its All-Filipino crown in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) in the absence of Jia de Guzman, possibly the biggest piece in the Cool Smashers’ offensive machine that has dominated the field for years.

And with no bridges being burned in her departure to play in the more lucrative Japan league, it’s easier for Creamline to accept the start of life without her.

“We are really happy for Jia. She is still Creamline, so she will still be with us when she returns,” coach Sherwin Meneses told a few reporters after the PVL press conference Wednesday at Discovery Suites in Pasig City. “She will learn a lot (in Japan) and her exposure will increase, which can help us when she gets back.

“We already knew that [she will be playing in Japan] for a long time, so we’re happy for the opportunity given to her.”

De Guzman, the multi-titled setter who is the primary reason why the Cool Smashers have been able to maximize their firepower, will be seeing action for the Denso Airybees in Japan’s V.League Division 1 and will thus be absent this conference starting with Creamline’s blockbuster clash with sister team Choco Mucho Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

De Guzman will backstop the Airybees, who are looking to improve on a sixth place finish in the 2022-23 season.

‘Doubly happy’

Cool Smashers star and teammate Alyssa Valdez also threw her full support to De Guzman, who was vital in each of the franchise’s six championships.

“If Jia is happy, we are doubly happy for her because of this opportunity,” Valdez said. “I think Jia showed everyone that she deserves that spot, and she’s really one of the best setters we have here in the Philippines and we hope that we will get the chance to play with Jia again soon.”

There is no shortage of talent in the deep Creamline bench, and there has been no doubt as to who will be filling in the big shoes that the four-time Finals Most Valuable Player left.

“Kyle Negrito is there. She’s a veteran setter as well, so she will become our main setter,” Meneses said. “The adjustments will still follow the same system. We will just have to see in the actual games on how good Kyle is.

“Kyle will fight out every game, that’s for sure.”

The Cool Smashers will work on positive results despite the challenge of losing De Guzman and the persistent problem of being consistent.

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“We have to work with what we have right now, and I think that’s what makes it interesting for our team for this All-Filipino as this is a new challenge for us,” Valdez said. “[We have] very interesting adjustments (to do), so hopefully, we could give our opponents good games,” Valdez said.