Tight battle in PVL

February 20, 2024 Theodore P. Jurado 136 views

DEBUTANTS Strong Group Athletics and Capital1 seek to be competitive in their Premier Volleyball League All-Filipino Conference opener against seasoned clubs today at the Philsports Arena.

SGA braces for a tough battle with two-time Reinforced Conference champion PetroGazz at 4 p.m., while the Solar Spikers go up against Chery Tiggo at 6 p.m.

SGA took over from cash-strapped Gerflor club while Capital1 filled in the spot left by F2 Logistics, which disbanded late last year.

Having assembled only two weeks ago, SGA is expected to encounter a rough patch starting with the Angels, who aiming to build on their recent triumph in the PNVF Champions’ League.

“As this is our inaugural conference, we encourage everyone to temper expectations,” the club posted through its social media accounts yesterday afternoon.

“The primary goal of the Strong Group Athletics players is to make a lasting impression and get noticed for the PVL Draft. It’s important to note that SGA will not have the right of first refusal for the players after the conference since this is a collaboration with the PVL.”

SGA’s roster went through “Player Selection Process” presided by team consultant Jerry Yee and coach Onyok Getigan this month and has yielded a mix of veteran players led by Lilet Mabbayad and young talents headed by Dolly Verzosa.

Owned by sisters Mandy and Milka Romero, the Solar Spikers also feature a blend of experienced players and rising starts who are determined to prove their worth in the PVL.

With multi-titled coach Roger Gorayeb at the helm, Capital1 is taking things one goal at a time.

“We are not in a hurry, we take it one step at a time until we build a winning culture. That’s our goal,” said Milka Romero, a former Ateneo women’s football team captain.

Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas, who played under Gorayeb’s most recent PVL club PLDT three years ago, will banner the Solar Spikers.

“I do not promise na malaking-malaki kaagad. We’ll do it slowly. Basta lang ayokong magsalita ng tapos. They took me in based on my experience, yung track record ko, gagamitin ko yun,” said Gorayeb.

While still waiting for MJ Phillips, who will only come on board right after completing her duties in South Korea, PetroGazz will have Fil-Am hitter Brooke Van Sickle to boost its offensive stock.

“For me, I just want to be as consistent as possible. I think that will hopefully be my role. I want to be there for my teammates,” said Van Sickle, who joined the Angels last month.

“They have my back. I want to be able to have their backs and the chemistry that we’re already building, and the relationships that we’re building,” she added.

Myla Pablo is also making her return with PetroGazz, which hired Japanese coach Koji Tsuzurabara to man the sidelines and named charismatic middle blocker Remy Palma as its new skipper.

The Crossovers, the 2021 Open Conference champion, have also retooled their lineup with key acquisitions, including former Cargo Movers Ara Galang and Aby Maraño.

Mylene Paat, Shaya Adorador and sisters EJ and Eya Laure are expected to play key roles for Chery Tiggo, with Joyme Cagande filling in for injured setters Jasmine Nabor and Alina Bicar.

The tournament format involves a single round robin preliminaries among 12 clubs with the top four advancing to the semis, another round-robin phase. The top two teams dispute the championship in a best-of-three series.

Meanwhile, PLDT and Galeries Tower clash at 3 p.m. while Choco Mucho tangles with Nxled at 5 p.m. in the second playdate on Thursday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Creamline, winner of last year’s two AFC titles, launches its drive for an eighth league championship against Farm Fresh at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the first triple-bill that also features the Chery Tiggo-SGA clash at 2 p.m., and the Cignal-Akari duel at 4 p.m.