THE Shakey’s V-League marks its milestone 10th season on April 7 with one of the most power-packed casts ever put together in years – 10 teams with varying strengths and styles, including two newcomers raring to make an impression in what promises to be a banner year for both the league and the sport.
Ateneo goes for a rare three-peat in the league’s First Conference although the Lady Eagles face a tougher challenge this time from a slew of top-notch rivals, including fellow two-time champions San Sebastian and Adamson, which both long for another shot at the championship.
Emerging powers National U, University of Perpetual Help, and Letran are all aiming for the big one, Visayan squad University of San Carlos-Cebu is itching to prove its worth, and Arellano University and De La Salle-Dasmariñas are out to spring a surprise in their maiden season in the country’s premier women’s volleyball league.
With six-time champion University of Santo Tomas back to redeem itself from last year’s final setback to Ateneo, a fierce, wide-open battle for the coveted crown is seen in the two-group field with the last four championships, including the SEA Club Invitational in 2011, won by four different teams, underscoring a keen balance of power.
“We expect a lot of surprises this year, this being our milestone 10th year. Everybody would want to gain a piece of history,” said Ricky Palou, president of the organizing Sports Vision.
In fact, the elims promises to be a slam-bang phase as far as Group A is concerned, as the league’s three fancied squads – Ateneo, UST, and San Sebastian - are grouped together following the drawing of lots.
La Salle-Dasmarinas and Letran complete the tough cast with Adamson, National U, and Perpetual Help making up Group B along with Arellano U and University of San Carlos-Cebu.
Due to conflict in its academics schedule, three-time titlist and reigning UAAP champion La Salle-Taft begged off from competing in the event backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Still, the 10-team field remains as talent-laden as ever as it features not only the finest and brightest teams from the UAAP and NCAA leagues but also from the NCRAA, UCAA and PRISAA, and Visayas,
“What makes this 10th season doubly exciting is that we have two new teams and a Visayan selection which could offer a different kind of challenge for the league’s regulars,” said Sports Vision chair Moying Martelino.
Under the format, the 10 teams are divided into two groups and play a one-round robin elims with the top four squads from each group advancing to the quarterfinals. The last eight will again be grouped into two and play a single round with the top two teams in each group clashing in a pair of crossover semis. Winners will then clash for the crown in another best-of-three affair.