Defending champion Arellano University (AU) remains the team to beat in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 93 women’s volleyball tournament, which begins on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Chiefs are still intact with the presence of veteran players Jovielyn Grace Prado, Regine Anne Arocha, Necole Ebuen and Andrea Marzan – all members of the team that won the crown in Season 92.
Those players also played for the Power Smashers in the Premier Volleyball League.
“We’re optimistic of our chances but we’re not underestimating the opponents,” said Arellano management committee representative Peter Cayco.
Arellano starts its title-retention bid against Mapua University in the opening day at 1:30 p.m. right after the match between last year’s runner-up San Sebastian College and Emilio Aguinaldo College at 12 noon.
Leading the Lady Cardinals are Lorraine Barias, Jenahlyn De Guia, Nicole Frando, Shaira Hermano, Dianne Latayan, Angeline Mangundayao, Joane Mercado, Jan Andrea Morano, Patria Pena, Katrina Racelis and Danielle Ramilo.
On the other hand, the Lady Stags will be playing without three-time NCAA MVP Grethcel Soltones, who already used up her five-year playing eligibility, leaving Alyssa Eroa, Vira May Guillema, Joyce Sta. Rita, Nikka Dalisay and Dangie Encarnacion to lead the team.
San Sebastian also lost Julie Ann Tiangco, who sustained a knee injury before the start of the season.
“I have no choice but to make do with what’s left with the team,” added San Sebastian head coach Roger Gorayeb.
In Season 92, the Lady Stags swept the elimination round to automatically advance to the finals.
But San Sebastian lost to Arellano in the championship round.
Seeing action for the Lady Generals are Aira Binondo, Kristine Cancio, Chellesi Chan, Jaylene Lumbo, Ladeisheen Magbanua, Glyka Medina, Crislie Pablo, Anina Reyes, Kenneth Deanne Reyes, Yvonne Tasis, Yvette Tongco and Iona Yongco.