Nisperos makes PVL debut with Akari

July 1, 2023 Theodore P. Jurado 313 views

FAITH Nisperos makes her much awaited pro debut as Akari kicks off its campaign in Pool A against PLDT in the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference at the Filoil EcoOil Centre today.

The last two clubs to make their conference debut, the Chargers and the High Speed Hitters take the floor at 1:30 p.m. in the league’s final tripleheader before taking an 11-day break to give way to the country’s staging of the Volleyball Nations League Week 3.

In Pool B, Choco Mucho seeks a follow-up to its imposing three-set stroll over Farm Fresh last Thursday as it takes on Foton at 4 p.m.

F2 Logistics and Cignal slug it out in a key face-off with the winner gaining the edge in what looms to be a wild race to the semis among six teams at 6:30 p.m.

The Cargo Movers dispatched the Foxies, while the HD Spikers repulsed PetroGazz in last Tuesday’s opener.

Akari hopes to turn things around behind Nisperos, who decided to forego her final year for Ateneo to play in the pros, to boost its offensive firepower anchored on Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Janine Marciano.

Nisperos, together with Michelle Cobb, Ezra Madrigal, Bang Pineda, Erika Raagas and Eli Soyud are coming into the tournament fresh from a stint in Indonesia where it represented the national team in the AVC Challenge Cup for Women.

PLDT, meanwhile, is parading hard-hitting Army spiker Royse Tubino and reigning two-time NCAA Best Setter Venice Puzon.

Tubino will give the High Speed Hitters extra firepower to back up Mean Mendrez, Mich Morente and Jovie Prado.

With the departure of setter Wendy Semana, Puzon will serve as back-up to Rhea Dimaculangan in orchestrating PLDT’s offense.

All eyes will be on the marquee match-up between F2 Logistics and Cignal.

Coach Regine Diego upbeat of the Cargo Movers’ chances to make it two in a row behind a solid crew reinforced by three prized newcomers.

Former middle Ivy Lacsina expects to get better in a new role as open spiker after leading F2 Logistics’ straight set romp of Farm Fresh with 13 points.

Aby Maraño, Kim Dy, Majoy Baron, who combined for 26 points, have always been ready to provide leadership and support, along with Myla Pablo, Ara Galang and Kim Fajardo.

But what makes the Cargo Movers, who reached the podium in the PVL for the first time by placing third in the All-Filipino Conference, formidable is the presence of rookies Jolina dela Cruz, setter Mars Alba and opposite spiker Jov Fernandez, who all had solid debut.

With a single-round format in the two-division elims setup among 11 teams, every game counts and like F2 Logistics, expect Cignal, bannered by Ces Molina, Rose Doria, Riri Meneses, Gel Cayuna and the comebacking Jovelyn Gonzaga and skipper Rachel Anne Daquis, to likewise go flat out to nail the all-important victory.

“Importante na ma-maintain namin yung level of play kasi kapag maikli ang tournament malaki ang chance na maunahan ka,” said Diego.

“Kailangan ipa-feel mo agad sa team na we cannot relax kahit sinong team, kahit sinong kalaban we cannot take them lightly kasi one loss can affect yung whole conference,” the former La Salle libero added.

While they are wary of the Cargo Movers, coach Shaq delos Santos said the HD Spikers are more than ready to face their rivals.

“One game at a time lang muna, good thing lang din sa schedule namin, we have three days to prepare. Pero siyempre F2 yung kalaban alam naman natin yung quality ng laro nila,” said Delos Santos.