MANILA – Competition got tighter in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) as three new teams joined the professional league ahead of its midseason tournament.
Slated on June 27, PVL is returning to the hardcourt as they opened the Invitational Conference that will feature comebacking Foton Tornadoes and newly-formed teams Gerflor Defenders and Farm Fresh Foxies.
The 11 local teams have been divided into two groups, with the top two teams in each pool advancing to the round-robin semifinals which will also have two foreign squads – making it a 13-team competition.
Teams from the same pool will carry over their head-to-head record into the second round. The top two squads will move to the winner-take-all final, while the third and fourth-ranked teams will compete for the bronze medal.
Group A will be composed of defending champion Creamline Cool Smashers, Chery Tiggo Crossovers, PLDT High Speed Hitters, Akari Chargers, and Gerflor.
Group B will consist of six teams: Petro Gazz Angels, F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, Choco Mucho Flying Titans, Cignal HD Spikers, Farm Fresh, and Foton.
"With volleyball in the country growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade, we feel that it's about time to increase the number of member teams in the PVL," said league president Ricky Palou.
"This will not only bring more excitement for our fans but also provide players with more opportunities to have a career in volleyball. The new teams are also committed to staying with us in the long term," he added.
The Foton Tornadoes will make their return to competitive volleyball after three years.
"We are happy that the league and the member teams allowed us to join starting with the Invitational Conference," said team manager Aaron Velez. "With two teams, this will give our company added exposure and our players a chance to further hone their skills.”
Meanwhile, the Foxies will feature the core of the NCAA champion College of Saint Benilde team and will have Jerry Yee as the head coach for their inaugural season.
"The PVL is a big platform to introduce our product, which is the first real fresh milk in the market. Though we are a new team, chemistry won't be a problem for us since the Lady Blazers never really stopped training even after the NCAA season," Janica Lao, Foxies team manager, said.
Defenders, on the other hand, will feature a mix of veterans and young players and will be coached by Edgar Barroga.
"We are thrilled to finally be a part of the PVL. We have organized and participated in several leagues to qualify for the opportunity to compete in the PVL, which we believe is the most prestigious league in the country. Being a part of the PVL is already an honor and accomplishment for our volleyball club," said Defenders team manager Jordan Tolentino.
Teams that will not advance to the next round will move to the classification phase. However, the sixth-placed squad in Pool B will automatically be ranked 13th.