ATENEO sets out for the first time without Alyssa Valdez as it faces Technological Institute of the Philippines today even as reigning NCAA champion St. Benilde takes on Far Eastern U in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
The Lady Eagles, the two-time V-League champions with Valdez as spearhead, have opted not to tap the former two-time MVP and three-time UAAP MVP as guest player and will instead stick it out with the core that will do battle in the UAAP wars next year.
"The team has decided to just tap Alyssa (Valdez) as member of the coaching staff because we want the players seeing action in the UAAP to toughen up and gain experience," said Ateneo team manager Tony Liao.
That leaves the cudgels to Bea de Leon, Kassandra Gequillana, Jhoanna Maraguinot, Julia Morado, Gizelle Tan, Ana Gopico and a comebacking Michelle Morente, who will test the mettle of the Lady Engineers in the featured 6 p.m. duel in the second playdate of the second conference.
But while Ateneo chose not to tap guest players, TIP tabbed fromer La Salle star and Laoag setter Chi Saet and Adamson standout Mylene Paat as reinforcements in their campaign.
Meanwhile, St. Benilde tries to flex its muscle as it tangles with Far Eastern U in the other match at 4 p.m. Both matches will be aired live on ABS CBN Sports + Action Channel 17 and 23.
The Lady Blazers, who beat the San Sebastian Lady Stags for the NCAA crown last year, will be led by NCAA Finals MVP Jeanette Panaga although their champion squad has been decimated by the graduation of a number of players.
"It will be tough," said St. Benilde coach Michael Carino, whose wards will be facing a solid FEU squad bannered by battle-scarred Bernadeth Pons, Mary Joy Palma and Toni Rose Basas.
University of the Philippines swept San Beda while San Sebastian repulsed Perpetual Help in four in Saturday’s opener of the league where it all started.
In the Spikers' Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference, University of Santo Tomas squares off with National College of Business and Arts at 11 a.m. while National U collides with FEU at 1 p.m.