Mandapat has big shoes to fill
Creamline will be one superstar short when it represents the Philippines in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Cup for Women after ace spiker Alyssa Valdez was ruled out of the tournament after contracting dengue.
And the Cool Smashers are giving Rizza Mandapat the chance to step up.
“Just confirmed with Coach Sherwin [Meneses] that Alyssa’s missing out the whole tournament,” Philippine National Volleyball Federation national teams commission head Tony Boy Liao told Inquirer Sports in a text message.
Mandapat has long played behind the shadow of Valdez and with the Cool Smashers up against the best countries in the region, this chance could can prop up her career.
Valdez missing the tournament will be a big blow to the Philippine campaign, as she is the most decorated, internationally-seasoned piece of the team that took on the assignment to represent the Philippines on very short notice.
The 29-year-old Valdez was recently on vacation with her celebrity friends, posting pictures and stories on her Instagram this week.
Last week, Valdez also sustained a left ankle sprain but shrugged it off in the gold medal game of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Invitational Conference on Sunday and helped Creamline dominate KingWhale Taipei for its second straight title this season.
Much of the scoring load will be left on the shoulders of two-time PVL most valuable player (MVP) Tots Carlos and the enigmatic Jema Galanza.
Coaching staff might also consider giving Ced Domingo, the Finals MVP, more looks to score and giving the resurgent Michelle Gumabao more floor time.
Creamline opens its “group of death” campaign against Vietnam on Sunday. The Philippines battles China on Tuesday and Iran on Wednesday before wrapping up pool play action against Korea on Thursday.
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