ATENEO and Emilio Aguinaldo College have been tagged heavy favorites, but 10 other teams will look to steal the show in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference that opens on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Eagles bagged their first-ever UAAP men's volleyball title recently, while the Generals topped the NCAA and now both teams will be looking to add the invitational title to their collection.
The field will be divided into two groups, with EAC battling Far Eastern University, Mapua, National College of Business and Arts, National U and University of the East in the preliminaries.
The Eagles will battle Arellano University, St. Benilde, La Salle-Dasmarinas and La Salle-Taft and University of the Philippines.
Ateneo takes on La Salle in the opener, Arellano will face UP, and FEU with battle NCBA.
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro downplayed getting the “favorites” tag, pointing out that aside from EAC, tough matches can be expected from Arellano, National U, St. Benilde and FEU.
The Eagles will be banking on team captain Ysrael Marasigan, Rex Intal and Marck Espejo and guest players Antonio Bello and James Sto. Tomas.
EAC, on the other hand, will rely on NCAA MVP Howard Mojica, skipper Israel Encina and guest player John Pagtalunan.
La Salle will be headlined by skipper Raymark Woo while Johnvic de Guzman will lead St. Benilde.
NU will bank on Vincent Mangulabnan and Kim Dayandante, FEU on Greg Dolor and Joshua Barrica and Arellano on Lawrence de Espiritu.
After a single round robin elimination, the top four teams from both groups will advance to the quarterfinals and play another one-round series as one group.