FIRST-day winners RC Cola-Army and F2 Logistics clash for the early lead when the 2016 Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference women's volleyball tournament goes to the Malolos Sports and Convention Center in Malolos City on Saturday.
The 1 p.m. match will be followed by the 3 p.m. encounter between Foton and San Jose Builders, which are both chasing a first win in this inter-club tournament bankrolled by Asics, Mikasa, Senoh, Mueller and Grand Sports with TV5 as official broadcast partner.
"We're glad to welcome the PSL and some of its Bulakenya players back to our city," said Malolos Mayor Christian Natividad. "We hope that they will have a grand time and inspire our youth to do well in sports, particularly in volleyball."
Tagged as the top contender with a solid roster of established stars, the Lady Troopers lived up to the hype as they dominated the Toplander in their first game since taking a three-conference hiatus, 25-17, 25-9, 25-22.
Honey Royse Tubino, Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis spearheaded the assault while ageless playmaker Tina Salak, middle blocker Mary Jean Balse-Pabayo and spiker Joanne Bunag provided the veteran leadership for RC Cola-Army.
But RC Cola-Army coach Kungfu Reyes said any talk of a fourth title is premature.
"It's still premature," said Reyes, adding powerhouse sides like Petron, Cignal and Foton as well as a club team from Thailand are all threatening to halt their parade. "Mahaba pa ang liga. Marami pang pwedeng mangyari. We have to be prepared and work hard if we want to win another title."
Reyes added that if there's a team capable of pulling off a surprise, it's F2 Logistics.
"They have players like Cha (Cruz) and Aby (Marano) who used to star in their respective teams last conference," he said. "They have a very strong lineup and a disciplinarian coach in Mayie (Prochina). We have to be ready for them because they will surely prepare against us."
The Cargo Movers also made heads turn in their first game as they crushed San Jose Builders, 23-25, 25-10, 25-4.
Danica Gendrauli led a balanced attack for F2 Logistics while former La Salle stars Cruz and Marano took a backseat to reserve their energy for their blockbuster battle with RC Cola-Army.
"Army is a very strong team, alam natin yan," said Prochina, a member of the fabled team that won the country's last gold medal in women's volleyball in the 1993 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. "I still don't know what kind of adjustments we'll do, but we will surely be prepared for them.
"It's going to be a perfect test to know where we are right now."
Tickets are pegged at P200 and are still available at the sports office inside the venue.