Open Conference champion Pocari Sweat kicks off its drive for a second straight Shakey’s V-League championship as it tangles with Air Force today (Wednesday) even as Customs and Laoag clash in a duel of early winners in the Reinforced Conference at the Philsports Arena.
The Lady Warriors set out for their 4 p.m. clash with the Jet Spikers, whom they beat to claim the season-opening conference crown on their very first stint last July, as the heavy favorites owing to their solid roster and a pair of US imports raring to strut their wares before local fans.
Myla Pablo, Michelle Gumabao, Elaine Kasilag and setter Iris Tolenada along with Melissa Gohing, Maricar Nepomuceno, Desiree Dadang and Gyzel Sy are back for the Lady Warriors, who will also parade a pair of power-hitting aces in Andrea Kacsits and Breanna Mackie.
Air Force dropped its opening day match to UST last Saturday but the Jet Spikers hope to spring a surprise behind Iari Yongco, Joy Cases, Mary Ann Pantino, Jocemer Tapic, Mae Antipuesto and the comebacking power-hitter Dell Palomata.
The Alyssa Valdez-led Customs, meanwhile, hopes to nail its second straight win after debuting with a 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 victory over University of the Philippines. But the Transformers face a tougher challenge this time against the Laoag Power Smashers who opened their campaign in the season-ending conference of the 13th season league sponsored by Shakey’s with a 25-8, 25-15, 25-16 romp over Coast Guard last Saturday.
Gametime is at 6 p.m.
Valdez fired 18 hits in her debut for Customs with the two-time league MVP and four-time champion with BaliPure and Ateneo expected to raise the level of her game as she settles down with her new team’s brand of play.
Valdez also drew solid back-up from Rose Marie Vargas, Lilet Mabbayad, Pau Soriano and RIzza Mandapat, who combined for 38 points to help power the Transformers past the UP Lady Maroons.
UST, priming up for the UAAP wars, swept its first two matches against Air Force and Coast Guard with an all-Filipino crew headed by the crisp-hitting EJ Laure and equally talented Carla Sandoval and Marivic Meneses with three of its mainstays still out with UAAP stints in beach volleyball.
Meanwhile, Army opens its bid in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Reinforced Conference as it plays 100 Plus at 12:30 p.m. also at Philsports.