THE Shakey’s V-League marks its Season 11 with a couple of firsts – drawing a record field of 12 teams, including first timers St. Louis University of Baguio and Lady Agilas of Davao, which along with Cebu’s Southwestern University, makes the First Conference truly national in scope.
“This is the first time that Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be represented, thus making it a national tournament. And we expect these teams to provide a different kind of challenge and spring a surprise or two against the regular teams,” said Sports Vision president Ricky Palou.
Action fires off Sunday with a blockbuster twinbill pitting newly crowned UAAP champion Ateneo against contender Adamson and defending champion National University versus NCAA titlist Perpetual Help.
But focus will be on SLU, a regular campaigner in the Shakey’s Girls’ Volley, which debuts against SWU on Tuesday in another slambang double-header that will also feature former many-time NCAA champion San Sebastian against Far Eastern U.
The Lady Agilas, meanwhile, will only see action on April 20 but will play five straight games to complete their elims schedule in the season-opening conference of the Shakey’s-sponsored league where it all started.
Skipper Marian Torres headlines the Henry Fuentes-mentored SLU squad that includes Florence Madulid, Laarni Quezada, Roxanne Almonte, Maureen Agudia, Sunshine Banjawan, Czarina Mejia, Elaine Joy Daniel, Colleen Rossi, Eileen Gani, Krissian Tsuchiya, Allysa Aquino, Joanne Lunday, and Loraine Geronimo.
The Lady Agilas, meanwhile, hope to soar behind team captain Venus Flores and mainstays Cherry Ann Balse, Angel Mae Antipuesto, Marie Claire Dawang, Reynelen Raterta, Mary Grace Berte, Princess Joy Oliveros, Ana Veronica Conception, Irish Dignadice, Ma. Aurora Enriquez, and May Shiel Agton.
The Cebuanas will be reinforced by Frances Karen Derder and Lutgarda Malaluan with Neresa Villanueva as skippers. Others in the fold are Janelle Cabahug, Therese Rae Ramas, Loida Abellana, Sheena Quiño, Necca Rose Dela Llana, Jerra Mae Pacinio, Sheila Mae Bongo, Dyan Darantinao, and Marlyn Llagoso.
A fierce battle is expected owing to the single round elims format where the 12 teams are divided into two groups.
Ateneo heads Group A that includes Adamson, St. Benilde, Arellano, SLU, and SWU, while NU banners Group B along with UST, SSC, FEU, Perpetual Help, and Davao.
The top four teams from each side after the single round elims will advance to the quarters where the teams will again be divided into two in another single round phase.
However, games played by the teams in the same groups in the elims will no longer be played, while the results will be carried over to the quarters.
The top two squads from each side will clash in a crossover semis, a best-of-three, with the winners clashing for the crown in another best-of-three duel.
Matches will be aired on GMA News TV on a delayed basis.