DEFENDING champion National University and newly-crowned UAAP titlist Ateneo strut their wares Sunday, looking to get their title bid going as they battle separate rivals on opening day of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Eagles, who faced off in the title series last season, are playing in separate groups in the preliminaries of the tournament featuring UAAP and NCAA teams and three squads from the provinces.
The Lady Eagles are hoping to sustain the momentum of their title victory in the UAAP when they take on the Adamson Lady Falcons in the 2 p.m. match.
NU, out to atone for its failed bid in the UAAP where it blew a twice-to-beat edge and bowed to Ateneo in the stepladder semis, takes on a Perpetual Help side coming off a triumphant campaign in the NCAA in the 4 p.m. match.
The season formally opens at 1 p.m. with Shakey’s officials headed by EVP and COO Vic Gregorio, organizing Sports Vision president Ricky Palou and chair Moying Martelino expected to make the ceremonial serves.
Focus will be on Season and Finals MVP Alyssa Valdez, who rose to the challenge to lead the Lady Eagles past the thrice-to-beat La Salle Lady Spikers in the UAAP finals, and the rest of the gritty Ateneo crew that includes Denden Lazaro, Amy Ahomiro, Melissa Morado and Michelle Morente.
But Adamson cannot be taken lightly, with team leader Shiela Marie Pineda backed by Mylene Paat, Mae Zapanta, and former Lady Falcons ace Pau Soriano and Thai reinforcement Pacharee Sangmuang.
The Lady Bulldogs will pin their hopes on sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago with support expected to come from Aiko Urdas, Carmin Aganon and Myla Pablo while Perpetual Help will be led by veterans Norie Diaz and Honey Rose Tubino.
St. Louis University of Baguio makes its debut on Tuesday against Southwestern U from Cebu, while many-time NCAA champion San Sebastian tests Far Eastern University’s mettle in the other match in the second playdate of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and organized by Sports Vision.
Ateneo and Adamson are grouped with Arellano University, St. Benilde, SWU and SLU, while NU and Perpetual Help are grouped with SSC, Davao, FEU, and the league’s winningest team University of Santo Tomas.
Games can be viewed on live streaming on www.v-league.ph and will be aired on GMA News TV on a delayed basis.