College of St. Benilde opens its title defense against a dangerous Perpetual Help even as Grethcel Soltones seeks to help San Sebastian win a championship on her last season as they clash with Arellano University in today’s start of the National Collegiate Athletic Association women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Last year’s Finals MVP Jeanette Panaga and seasoned Ranya Musa will be back to help the Lady Blazers win another championship after coming out of nowhere to pull the rug from under Soltones, the league’s reigning back-to-back MVP, and the Lady Stags and claim last season’s crown.
The Macky Carino-mentored St. Benilde side, however, will have its hands full as it will take on a vastly improved Perpetual Help, which is coming off a solid runner-up finish to eventual champion Santo Tomas in the UniGames in Dumaguete last month, in their 2 p.m. encounter.
“It will be tougher this year because all of the teams are now looking to beat us,” said Carino in Filipino.
The CSB-Perpetual showdown will be preceded by the 1 p.m. opening ceremony.
Soltones and the Lady Stags, who have made it to the semifinals of the Shakey’s V-League-Seasn 13-Reinforced Conference a couple of months ago, for their part, will be tackling the Arellano U Lady Chiefs at 3:30 p.m. with an eye of jumpstarting their title campaign.
“This is my last season and I will give it my best to help us win a championship,” said Soltones, whose squad finished second in the last two seasons.
Other pairings pit Lyceum against Letran at 9 a.m., Jose Rizal versus Mapua at 10:30 a.m. and San Beda against Emilio Aguinaldo at 5 p.m.