ATENEO stars Alyssa Valdez and Denden Lazaro renew their rivalry with former La Salle counterparts Michelle Gumabao and Melissa Gohing when they play for Bali Pure and Pocari Sweat, respectively, in the 13th Shakey's V-League Open Conference starting on May 28 at The Arena in San Juan City.
The country’s pioneering women’s volleyball league will actually hold its opening rites on Sunday at The Arena City to introduce all the participating teams and players, but matches will only start a week after.
Valdez and Lazaro will spearhead Bali Pure, which also includes former Ateneo stars Dzi Gervacio, Bea Tan, Charo Soriano, Amy Ahomiro and Mary Mae Tajima along with reigning NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones.
Karla Bello, Janine Marciano, Alyssa Eroa and Ivana Agbayani round out the squad with Soriano, who heads the Beach Volleyball Republic, as playing coach.
Meanwhile, Gumabao and Gohing, who beat Valdez and Lazaro for the UAAP crown in their last two seasons with La Salle in 2012-13, will banner an equally impressive Pocari Sweat crew that also features the likes of Myla Pablo, Elaine Kasilag, Gyselle Sy, Siemens Dadang and Rossan Fajardo.
Pocari will be coached by Thai Tai Bundit, Valdez and Lazaro’s mentor at Ateneo.
"We're expecting an exciting conference with these eight teams," said Ricky Palou, president of the organizing Sports Vision.
National U, a team headed by Jaja Santiago and Jorelle Singh with multi-titled Roger Gorayeb as coach, is also expected to contend for the crown while University of the Philippines, which defied the odds and made it to the UAAP Final Four this year, is also tipped to crowd the fancied teams for the crown.
Completing the eight-team roster are KIA, Air Force, Baguio and Iriga City.
On the other hand, six teams, led by Reinforced Conference champion Cignal TV, Inc. will vie in the second Spikers' Turf season, an all-men league similar to the V-League, which also kicks off on May 28.