The Shakey’s V-League takes a big step into becoming a commercial league as it stages the Open Conference beginning Sunday, July 31, at The Arena in San Juan. Four non-school teams joining three regular member-schools in what promises to be a blockbuster offering by the country’s premiere women’s volleyball league.
In their continuing effort to bring the sport to a higher level, organizer Sports Vision and sponsor Shakey’s Pizza are putting up a tournament that will not only continue to showcase the leading volleyball schools’ prowess but also those from three “military” teams and a commercial squad.
Army, Air Force and Navy along with Maynilad are joining 2011 first conference champion Ateneo, former titlist San Sebastian College and University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in this pilot project aimed at further raising the level of women’s volleyball, following the successful staging of the school-oriented tournaments the last eight years.
“The formation of a ‘commercial’ league has been seriously considered by Sports Vision for the past two years. However, lack of commercial teams has stymied the creation of such project,” said Sports Vision chairman Moying Martelino. “We want to give the fans the best competition in women’s volleyball so we’re bringing it to a higher level by including non-schools in this conference.”
To level the playing field and make the games more exciting in the league, the three school teams are allowed to tap two non-student or foreign players as reinforcements.
“It is common knowledge that the military and Maynilad teams are stronger than the school teams. So to balance out competition, Ateneo, San Sebastian and Perpetual are not only allowed to recruit non-student players but also two foreign players to beef up their respective line-ups,” said Martelino.
This makes the league truly an “all-star” cast with the likes of former MVPs Nene Bautista, Suzanne Roces, Aiza Maizo and Cherry Rose Macatangay and former stars Rachel Daquis, Joy Cases, Giza Yumang, Jen Manzano and Charise Ancheta suiting up for various teams.
“This is some kind of a pilot project. If this becomes successful, we will then be holding the Open tournament right after the regular (school) conference each year,” said Martelino.
Navy looms as the team to watch with a talented roster headed by two-time MVP Roces and Bautista, the top player in 2008 first conference, and backstopped by Micmic Laborte, Janet Serafica, Joan Carpio and Daphne Mata while Cases will spearhead Maynilad’s bid along with Margarita Pepito, Syvie Artates, Beverly Boto, Nica Guliman and Ancheta.
Maizo, the 2009 second conference MVP, and Macatangay, who reigned in 2006, and Manzano banner the Air Force squad while Daquis heads the Army roster that includes Maiah Manukay, 2005 first conference MVP Michelle Carolino and sister Mayeth, Dahlia Cruz and Mary Jean Balse, the first MVP winner in 2004.
Ateneo, which beat Adamson to claim its first-ever crown early this year, will be led by guest player Leal Patnongon and mainstays Gretchen Ho, Alyssa Valdez, Fille Cainglet, Bea Tan, Jem Ferrer and Dzi Gervacio while San Sebastian will be headed by Dafna Robiños, Joy Benito, Bea Uy, Mae Crisostomo, Czarina Berbano, Jennifer Salgado and Rubie de Leon.
Perpetual Help will pin its hopes on Yumang, April Sartin, Sandra delos Santos, Arriane Argarin, Jane Diaz, Nheray dela Cruz and Janice Abar as it tries to improve on its fifth place finish in this year’s first conference.