MANILA, Philippines - Ateneo, fresh from an improbable title run in the UAAP, sets out as the hot favorite when the Shakey’s V-League kicks off its Season 11 this Sunday with the best from the UAAP and NCAA plus three top provincial teams clashing for the First Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan City.
UAAP season and Finals MVP Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro, Jia Morado, Michelle Morente and Ella de Jesus will banner the amazing Lady Eagles, who survived three sudden deaths to deliver a first-ever UAAP crown for Ateneo. They capped their never-before-heard feat with an ironic sweep of the fancied La Salle Lady Spikers in their sudden death watched by a record crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena last Sunday.
Ateneo actually barely made it to the UAAP women’s volley stepladder semis, needing to beat Adamson in a playoff to advance then upended the fancied twice-to-beat National U side to seal a title showdown with the Lady Spikers.
They erased the Lady Spikers imposing thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals with a four-set victory in their first face-off, dropped their next match but swept the last two, including a masterful three-setter in the winner-take-all.
The stirring, historic victory should augur well for the Lady Eagles’ bid to reclaim the First Conference crown they won in Season 9 of the Shakey’s V-League, which sparked the sport’s renaissance in 2004.
But the Lady Eagles will face a different kind of challenge in the V-League, where it all started, with NU and Adamson raring to get back at them and UST, Far Eastern U, Perpetual Help and many-time NCAA champion San Sebastian all primed up for the big event to be aired on a delayed basis over GMA News TV.
Joining the title hunt in the First Conference held by NU are St. Benilde, Arellano U, Cebu’s Southwestern University, St. Louis University of Baguio and the Davao Lady Agilas from Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the league’s new season will be launched in elaborate rites today at the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
As in the past conferences, each team is allowed to field in two guest players although each squad is only allowed to tap in one foreign guest player.
Shiela Pineda, Pau Soriano and Mayette Zapanta will lead Adamson’s bid for a second crown after winning in Season 5 while San Sebastian also looks formidable with a team built around the power-hitting Gretchel Soltones, Czarina Berbano and Ara Mallare.
Perpetual Help will pin its hopes on Royse Tubino, Collen Bravo and Jane Diaz while St. Benilde also hopes to come out with a strong performance behind Janine Navarro and Therese Veronas, so do Arellano U behind MJ Ticar, Mechie Tubiera and CJ Rosario.