MANILA, Philippines -- Players from the country's top volleyball clubs welcomed the formation of a national league, which gives them a platform to play against each other once again.
Ramon "Tats" Suzara, president of the Philippine National Volleyball Federation, Inc. (PNVFI), announced Tuesday that they plan to launch the federation-owned league in July. Eight of the best teams in the country will participate in the competition, regardless of their original affiliation.
This development has given players and fans hope that top clubs from the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) and the Philippine Superliga (PSL) can finally face off against each other.
"Sobrang excited talaga ako," said F2 Logistics team captain Aby Maraño during the Philippine Sportswritres Association (PSA) Forum. "At least man lang, ma-experience namin na merong isang league na magkakasama kami ulit."
"Nakaka-miss na makalaban sila Alyssa (Valdez) and other girls from the other league, the PVL," she admitted.
Maraño and the Cargo Movers have dominated the PSL in recent years, while Valdez and the Creamline Cool Smashers have done the same in the PVL.
While Maraño and Valdez have teamed up for the Philippine national team, they have not played against each other since their collegiate days when they suited up for De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University, respectively.
Maraño noted that by playing in one national league, the country's top volleyball players can only elevate their game even more.
"Ang magandang effect kasi niyan is, kapag nagsama-sama kami sa isang liga, lahat kami nagko-compete with each other, lahat tumataas, umaangat 'yung level of volleyball performance," she explained.
"Ang tagal na naming magkakasama sa PSL. Sure sila Alyssa matagal na rin silang magkakasama ng mga teams sa PVL," she added. "Parang kilalang-kilala na nila 'yung teams na nakakalaban nila and kami din ganoon."
"This time around, (it's) different."
For Valdez, the national league creates a new level of excitement not just for the fans, but even the players themselves.
"I think it's a new motivation," she said. "Parang iba iba 'yung excitement na mararamdaman mo knowing na magkakaroon ng tournament to play against each other, but healthy compettion for sure."
"And definitely, this will help the growth of Philippine volleyball," she added.
The national league is expected to take place after the PVL season, which is scheduled to start in May in a bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna. The PSL, for its part, has yet to announce a concrete date for its volleyball tournament but is planning to hold a beach volleyball competition later this month in Subic.
The national league, when it happens, will follow all government regulations according to Suzara.
Based on the tripartite agreement among the Department of Health, the Philippine Sports Commission, and the Games and Amusements Board in 2020, only professional leagues are allowed to hold competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic.