‘Open’ wars kick off 12th Shakey’s V League

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A heavy three-game bill, featuring six of the country’s top commercial squads, fires off the 12th Shakey’s V-League today (Sunday, April 5) at The Arena in San Juan with the Open Conference now the lead-off tournament of the longest-serving women’s volley league in the land.

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Cagayan Valley tests Fourbees of Perpetual Help’s mettle in 12:45 p.m. match to be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11 in what looms to be an explosive clash between a former champion out to regain its lofty post and a newcomer raring to prove its worth.

The organizing Sports Vision has tweaked its annual calendar and held the Open ahead of the regular First Conference featuring top collegiate teams to give way to give way for the Asian Under-23 women’s championship the country is hosting this May and the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore this June.

Top Shakey’s V-League players will also anchor the country’s campaign in the twin regional tournaments.

Philippine Coast Guard also hopes to come out strong against Navy in the 2:45 p.m. clash while powerhouse and league presentor PLDT Home Ultera battles Baguio in the 4:45 p.m. main game.

Completing the eight-team cast in the league, sponsored by Shakey’s where it all started, are defending champion Philippine Army and Meralco.

Matches will be shown on GMA News TV Channel 11 from Mondays to Thursdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m. while Sundays games are aired live at 12:45 p.m., according to the organizing Sports Vision.

On paper, Cagayan appears to be strong with Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Ma. Angeli Tabaquero, Janine Maricano, Pau Soriano, Shiela Pineda and Rosemarie Vargas bannering the squad. But the Fourbees of NCAA champion Perpetual Help squad remains upbeat of their chances behind Mary Joy Calleja, Jeannie delos Reyes, Jessica Arceo, Wendy Abcede, Marijo Medalla and Jana Sta. Maria.

Focus will also be on PLDT Home Ultera, which boasts of a top-notch roster headed by two-time UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo, former MVP Suzanne Roces, National U ace Jaja Santiago, San Sebastian top hitter Gretchel Soltones and veterans Laurence Ann Latigay, Charo Soriano Rubie de Leon.

But Team Baguio is out for a big surprise in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel behind skipper Cindy Benitez, Roxanne Madulid, Edelyn Cartas, Roshelle Degay, Florence Madulid, Krissian Tsuchiya, Clarrisa Tolentino and Coleen Rossi.

The Coast Guard-Navy matchup is also expected to be a tossup with the former to be led by Mary Joyce Chu, Nelet Clarete. Mary Rosale, Rossan Fajardo, Cindy Valencia, Arnie Yumul and Lea Acepcion and the latter to be bannered by Norie Diaz, Diane Ticar, Hezzymie Acuña, Lilet Mabbayad, Hannah Velarde and Carissa Martinez.

Army, headed by the star-studded crew of Dindin Santiago-Manabat, Nerissa Bautista, Rachel Ann Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Tina Salak and Mary Jean Balse, opens its title defense against Fourbees on Tuesday after the 2 p.m. clash between Navy and Meralco.

Format is a single-round robin elims, thus making each game important, with the top four moving into the semifinals, another single-round robin phase. The top two teams will then dispute the crown in a best-of-three series.

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