MANILA, Philippines - With an intact lineup and a talented backup, Ateneo primes itself up for a title repeat in the Shakey's V-League ninth season first conference firing off April 24 at The Arena in San Juan.
Thai ace Lithawat Kesinee returns for another tour of duty for the Lady Eagles, who swept the Adamson tossers in last year’s finals to end a long search for volleyball supremacy.
It was a sweet victory for Ateneo, which didn’t only celebrated its breakthrough win in the country’s premier volley league but also got back at Adamson, which foiled its first crack at the crown also in the first conference of the 2008 season of the league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
This time, however, the Lady Eagles, handled by Roger Gorayeb, will have to double their effort to score a repeat with a slew of teams out to foil their bid with rosters as talented and as formidable as the Loyola-based squad.
In fact, University of Santo Tomas is raring to re-stake its claim as the country’s premier volley club as it makes its return since completing a record-equaling three-straight sweep of the championship in 2010. La Salle did the trick first in 2005-06 season of the annual tournament organized by Sports Vision.
Skipper Dzi Gervacio and power hitter Alyssa Valdez will provide the needed support to Kesinee along with veterans Fille Cainglet and Gretchen Ho while ace setter Jem Ferrer will again be Ateneo’s chief playmaker and libero Denden Lazaro will anchor the team’s defense.
Vastly-improved Aillysse Nacachi and Ella de Jesus are also expected to deliver off the bench for the Lady Eagles along with Bea Tan, Mona Bagatsing, Tash Faustino, Mae Tajima and Sarah Cruz.
Aside from Ateneo and UST, focus will also be on reigning NCAA champion University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, Far Eastern University, National University, San Sebastian College, Letran and Visayan teams University of St. La Salle of Bacolod and Cebu’s Southwestern University.
The 10-team field is divided into two groups with the top four teams after a single round robin eliminations in each bracket will advance to the quarterfinal stage.
The 10-team field is divided into two groups with the top four teams after a single round robin elims advancing to the quarters where they would be grouped into one. The top four will clash in the crossover semis with the No. 1 team colliding with the No. 4 squad and the Nos. 2 and 3 teams disputing the other finals berths in separate best-of-three series. The finals is also a best-of-three affair.