The country’s premier volleyball league, the Shakey’s V-League, unveils its Season 10 Open Conference at 2. p.m. today Sunday at The Arena in San Juan with a pair of blockbuster games.
Meralco battles Philippine National Police in the 2 p.m. opening match while Smart-Maynilad meets Far Eastern University in the 4 p.m. main event.
The Shakey’s V-League unveils its Open Conference during this 10th Season confident of topping its wildly successful 1st Conference last June which found National University coming from behind to win the title by beating highly favored Ateneo De Manila University.
The Shakey’s V-League is an intercollegiate women’s volleyball league but its Open Conference welcomes non-school teams to allow participation of women volleyball players who have already graduated and finished with their schooling.
The participating teams are Philippine Army, Cagayan Valley, Meralco, Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine National Police, Smart-Maynilad and Far Eastern University the lone school participating.
“This is going to be exciting. Although there are teams which appear to be too deep on paper, the rest are still capable of pulling off a surprise or two,” said Sports Vision president Ricky Palou in a published report.
The team to beat is undoubtedly Philippine Super Liga champion Philippine Army which boasts of a lineup which could probably pass for the Philippine national team.
Philippine Army Lady Troopers team of coach Rico De Guzman is tall, experienced, deep and well, tall. They have powerful, long-armed spikers in veterans Mary Jean Balse, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Michelle Carolino, Nerissa Bautista, Dahlia Cruz and Rachel Anne Daquis who reportedly joins the team early September.
They will also have really tall setter in the wily Cristina Salak. This lineup is so tall and long that they are as big a threat to score points while blocking as when they are attacking.
Cagayan Valley also appears formidable on paper with veteran mentor Nestor Pamilar handling a cast of talented players.
National University’s Jen Reyes, sprawled flat on the floor after saving a point for her team, takes her talents to Meralco where she provides the team tenacity and defensive character.
Pamilar will have a swashbuckling pair of former University of Santo Tomas spikers in Maria Angeli Tagaquero and Aiza Maizo. He will have a veteran setter in Relea Saet and utility player Joy Benito. But his biggest guns will be the pair of Thai reinforcements in Kannika Thipachot and Phomla Soraya.
The Smart-Maynilad team of coach Roger Gorayeb already appears formidable although with only nine players listed it looks like an incomplete lineup at this point.
Former Ateneo De Manila University spikers Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano team up with national player Suzanne Roces and former league Most Valuable Player in setter Rubie De Leon.
With only nine players in his roster as of press time it wouldn’t be surprising if Gorayeb adds many-time Thai visitor Jeng Bualee and his former ward at Ateneo Gretchen Ho to his team. Venus Bernal is also available and still not listed as a member of any team. Add any two of those three and Smart-Maynilad instantly becomes title favorite right alongside the Lady Troopers.
Meralco is another intriguing team worth a second look. Past league MVP Maureen Penetrante-Ouano formerly of La Salle will spearhead Meralco’s bid along with guest players and former La Salle stalwarts Stephanie Mercado and Ivy Remulla. They team up with former UAAP stars in Ateneo’s Fille Cainglet and National University stars Jennylyn Reyes, Zharmaine Velez, Karla Bello and April Jose.
Reyes, arguably the league’s most adamant, never-say-die libero adds tenacity and defensive character to this team.
Star volleyball player, TV and movie star, product endorser and commercial model Rachel Daquis flattens the volleyball with her powerful spike. Daquis joins the Philippine Army team which is favored to win it all.
Title sponsor Shakey’s Pizza and organizing entity Sports Vision Inc. are confident of capping the milestone 10th season of the country’s premier women’s volleyball league with another record turnout following a highly-successful staging of the First Conference last June.
National University won the conference crown when it outsteadied Ateneo in a thrilling sudden-death showdown at the Mall of Asia Arena. The NU volley belles prevailed in a best-of-three title series watched by a record crowd.
“With this cast, we expect another blockbuster conference. All the league stars are here so we expect no less than a dogfight for the crown,” said Vic Gregorio, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of the sponsoring Shakey’s Pizza.
The organizers have also tweaked the format to guarantee no-holds-barred contests. All eight teams go through a single-round robin elimination with the top six teams after the eliminations advancing to the quarterfinals.
The qualifiers will then carry over their respective records into the quarters where they play another single round robin phase. The top four teams will then comprise the Final Four. The No. 1 team battles the No. 4 squad and the No. 2 meets the No. 3 team in a pair of best-of-three series.
The winners will advance to another best-of-three championship while the losers engage in a best-of-three affair for third place.
Games will be held Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays and will be aired on a delayed basis on GMA News TV Channel 11, the league’s television partner. The official ball is Mikasa and Accel as the official outfitter of the league.