ARMY kicks off its drive for back-to-back title romps as it collides with a souped-up Meralco side even as Instituto Estetico Manila and Systema duel in the first-ever men’s V-League match on Sunday in the Foreign Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
The short tournament features four teams in the women’s side and four in the men’s event.
Meralco turned in a mediocre fifth place finish in their league debut in the Open Conference last year but is considered a title contender in the women’s side featuring only four teams, with the Power Spikers built around former La Salle top hitter Abigail Maraño, Stephanie Mercado and Maureen Penetrante-Ouano.
With Thai Wanida Kotruang and Japanese ace setter Misao Tanyama backstopping the team that also includes Zharmaine Velez, Maica Morada, Jennylyn Reyes and April Ross Hingpit, the Power Spikers appear to have the right materials to neutralize a talent-laden Army side.
But the Lady Troopers will be more than ready in their 6 p.m. encounter with the Power Spikers with coach Rico de Guzman boasting of a star-studded All-Filipino roster made more formidable with the entry of Dindin Santiago.
The former National U star complete a super six for Army headed by league MVPs Jovelyn Gonzaga, Rachel Ann Daquis, Nerissa Bautista and Mary Jean Balse and top setter Tina Salak.
Throw in Carmina Aganon, another former NU stalwart, Genie Sabas, Patricia Siatan-Torres, Joanne Bunag, Dahlia Cruz, Christine Agno, Sarah Jane Gonzales and skipper Michelle Carolino, also a former MVP, the Lady Troopers are indeed in for another crack at the championship in the league backed by MIkasa and Accel.
The two other teams in the women’s section – Cagayan Valley and PLDT Home Telpad – will debut on Tuesday and Thursday against Army and Meralco, respectively.
Focus will also be on the inaugural men’s tournament, with IEM and Systema squaring off at 4 p.m. The two other squads are former UAAP champion Far Eastern U and Rizal Technological University.
Games can be viewed live on streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Teams will play a double round robin format with the top two teams advancing to the best-of-three finals and the lower two engaging in a race-to-two for the bronze in both divisions.