THE Shakey’s V-League hopes to quench the fans’ 10-week thirst for top-notch women’s volley action as it kicks off its Season 10 Open Conference Sunday with a slam-bang twinbill featuring Smart-Maynilad against Far Eastern U and Meralco versus Philippine National Police at The Arena in San Juan.
Heated battle is expected all throughout owing to the league’s tight format where the top six of the eight competing squads after the single-round elims moving to the quarterfinal phase, another single-round stage carrying the teams’ win-loss records in the preliminaries.
Meralco and PNP tangle at 2 p.m., while Smart-Maynilad and FEU square off at 4 p.m. with GMA News TV Channel 11 airing the first match on Monday and the second game on Tuesday starting at 1 p.m., according to the organizing Sports Vision.
The four teams go all-out to nail the first win and build some kind of momentum and confidence although the Smart-Maynilad spikers and the Meralco side seem to have the slight edge over their respective rivals with well-balanced rosters.
Smart boasts of a compact but talented crew headed by Sue Roces, Alyssa Valdez and Charo Soriano, voted as three of the most popular players in the Shakey’s-sponsored league’s first 10 years, as it sets out against FEU in the main game.
Backing up Roces, Valdez and Soriano are future star Gretchel Soltones, Maru Banaticla, Melissa Gohing, and Mica Guliman.
What could make coach Roger Gorayeb team’s tick is the presence of the two of the league’s brilliant setters – Jem Ferrer and Rubie de Leon.
De Leon helped steer National U past Ateneo in a thrilling sudden death showdown for the First Conference crown last June with the MVP honors to boot, while Ferrer keyed the Lady Eagles’ title romp in last year’s First Conference finals backed by Mikasa and Accel.
They will face an FEU side led by former UAAP best setter Gyzelle Sy and top digger Christine Agno with coach Casael Delos Santos also hoping to draw the best from Bernadeth Pons, Marie Simborio, Marie Basas, Faith Torres and Genevieve Casugod.
Others expected to shine for the Lady Tams are Winonah Bagang, Samantha Dawson, Joy Palma, Louise Papa and Ilana Atienza.
Like Smart, Meralco hopes to get past PNP on a team built around former Ateneo star Fille Cainglet, former La Salle mainstays Maureen Penetrante-Ouano, Ivy Remulla and Stephanie Mercado, Karla Bello, Zharmaine Velez, Maica Morada, and ace playmaker Jennylyn Reyes.
But the PNP tossers are also out to make a strong start with veterans Michelle Datuin and Jill Gustilo leading a team that includes Ghileen Labrador, Janine Marciano, Frances Molina, Melissa Ogana, Mae Tadeo, and Jennifer Mia.