NATIONAL University eyes redemption after a dismal UAAP finish as the Lady Bulldogs look to defend their title in the Shakey’s V-League First Conference starting on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs failed to live up to expectations after a strong start in the UAAP, the twice-to-beat No. 2 seeds bowing in the semifinals to third seed and eventual champion Ateneo.
Now National U is determined to retain the title, especially after the painful ending to the UAAP season for outgoing skipper Dindin Santiago.
Teams are allowed to field two guest teams, but the Lady Bulldogs are not tapping a reinforcement for their title-retention drive in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey's.
It will be a few weeks before Dindin, her sister Jaja, and the rest of the Lady Bulldogs could meet Ateneo anew as the two teams were placed in different groups.
But expected to give NU a tough fight in the group stage is UST, the winningest team in the league, as well as many-time NCAA titlist San Sebastian College, Far Eastern University, Perpetual Help and newcomer Davao Lady Agilas.
Ateneo, on the other hand, is grouped with Adamson, St. Benilde, Arellano, St. Louis University of Baguio and Cebu’s Southwestern Universtiy.
Coach Edjet Mabbayad will also hope to get significant contributions from Aiko Urdas, Carmina Aganon, Myla Pablo, Rizza Mandapat, Fatima General, Desiree Dadang, Arianna Dequito, Mae Salazar, Precious Salibad, Ivy Perez, Jocelyn Soliven and Gayle Valdez.
“Shakey’s V-League: Where it all started” will be the league’s new tagline starting this season in reference to its pioneering effort to set off a local volleyball tournament exclusively for ladies back in 2004, according to Ricky Palou, president of the organizing Sports Vision.
The top four teams from each side after the single round elims will advance to the quarterfinals where they will again be divided into two in another single round phase.
The top two squads then clash in a crossover semifinals, with the finals a best-of-three series.
Matches will be aired on GMA News TV on a delayed basis.