MANILA, Philippines - The Shakey's V-League Season 11 kicks off its Open Conference today with eight teams of equal strength gearing up for what promises to be a fierce showdown for women's volley supremacy at The Arena in San Juan.
National U sets out against a University of the Philippines side in the 2 p.m. opener while Ateneo faces off with Philippine National Police at 4 p.m., all looking for a big start in the two-month long tournament that also features the best and brightest players the league has produced the last 11 years.
They include Alyssa Valdez, who is expected to flash her awesome spiking skills along with Amy Ahomiro, Aerieal Patnongon, Michelle Morente, Miren Gequillana, Ella de Jesus, Melissa Morado, Karen Derder and new recruits Bea de Leon and Therese Gaston.
But the Lady Patrollers hope to neutralize the Lady Eagles’ hitters and fuel their early bid in the tournament behind Ana Concepcion, Michelle Datuin, Diane Ticar, Frances Molina, Aidie Castro, Christine Maderazo and Charisse Perez.
Focus will also be on the Lady Bulldogs, a former First Conference champions, who will be led by Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo, Ivy Perez, Desiree Dadang, Rizza Mandapat, Fatima General and Roma Joy Doromal.
But they will have their hands full against a UP side hoping to make an impact on a team built around Alyssa Layug, Yen Ilustre, Angeli Araneta, Arylle Magtalas and Monica Ortiz.
The Diliman-based squad is actually in line for a busy start as it collides with powerhouse Philippine Army, champion in this conference in Season 8, on Tuesday before taking on a fancied PLDT Home Telpad on Thursday.
Still, the Lady Maroons are out to prove their worth in the tournament sponsored by Shakey’s and organized by Sports Vision with Mikasa and Accel as long-time backers.
The other teams vying in the mid-season offering of the league, where it all started, are Philippine Air Force and Cagayan Valley, which posted a league record of 16 victories in sweeping its way to last year’s crown.
But the Rising Suns will be hard-pressed to duplicate that feat with the rest of the contenders toughening up with solid rosters, backstopped by the league’s aces, including Rachel Ann Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Nene Bautista, MJ Balse and Michelle Carolino (Army), and Suzanne Roces, Angela Benting, Laurence Ann Latigay, Charo Soriano and DIndin Santiago (PLDT Home Telpad).
Play will be a single round robin elims with the top six teams advancing to the quarters, another one round robin affair with the qualifiers’ win-loss records to be carried over.