While its rivals tinkered with their respective rosters to reach competitive level, Creamline kept its side intact, ready to do battle and restart another crack at a record Premier Volleyball League feat.
The Cool Smashers, who won the Open Conference and the Invitationals last year, found no need to make roster changes despite missing out on a rare grand slam bid in a wild Reinforced Conference ruled by Petro Gazz and where they wound up third.
But Alyssa Valdez, who is still recovering from a right knee injury, along with Jia De Guzman, Tots Carlos, Jema Galanza, Ced Domingo and Kyla Atienza are all set not just to defend the crown in the season-opening tournament, now aptly billed as the All-Filipino Conference, but also go for a sweep of the three PVL jewels.
Hostilities fire off tomorrow (Saturday) with Akari facing Choco Mucho at 4 p.m. and Creamline and Petro Gazz renewing their rivals at 6:30 p.m.
But majority in the nine-team field have bolstered their rosters, including in the coaching side, in a bid to foil the Cool Smashers and fuel their respective title drive in league organized by Sports Vision.
Petro Gazz tapped former Choco Mucho head coach Oliver Almadro to replace Rald Ricafort, who steered the team to the Reinforced Conference crown before moving to PLDT this season. The Angels likewise acquired Des Clemente and Dzi Gervacio from F2 Logistics, Heather Guino-o from PLDT, and Jellie Tempiatura, who last played for Perlas.
Ricafort, who also brought in lead deputy Arnold Laniog to the High Speed Hitters, firmed up his new team’s roster by tapping Ysa Jimenez from UST and the seasoned Michelle Morente.
The Cargo Movers, on the other hand, took in Myla Pablo from Petro Gazz while also handing the head coaching reins to Regine Diego, who became the first female head coach in the pro volley scene.
The Flying Titans, on the other hand, welcomed former men’s national volleyball team head coach Dante Alinsunurin for Almadro.
But Akari, on paper, looked to gain much during the off-season, nabbing Dindin Santiago-Manabat (Chery Tiggo), Camille Victoria (UST), Bang Pineda (Petro Gazz) and Eli Soyud (PLDT).
Chery Tiggo, meanwhile, brought back coach Aaron Velez while also adding Ponggay Gaston (Choco Mucho) to its frontline rotation.
Cignal bolstered its bench with Gyzelle Sy, Gen Casugod (Chery Tiggo), and Chin Basas (PLDT) after losing Angeli Araneta, Ayel Estranero, Marist Layug, Joy Dacoron, Arianne Layug and Klarisa Abriam.
Army-Black Mamba also signed in Randy Fallorina, who previously played for Philippine Army in the Spikers’ Turf, to replace Kung Fu Reyes at the helm although, this time, the veteran Jovelyn Gonzaga won’t be around to lead the Lady Troopers’ campaign.