2:30 p.m. — Sta. Rosa vs Cignal
5:30 p.m. — VNS vs Fudgee Barr
Men’s volleyball takes center stage as the Spiker’s Turf makes a smashing return after a long absence with a two-game schedule starting with Sta. Rosa and Cignal today at the Paco Arena.
The Sta. Rosa-Cignal showdown is set at 2:30 p.m. and will be followed by the 5:30 p.m. clash between VNS-One Alicia and Ateneo-Fudgee Barr that should usher in the Open Conference with a bang.
Former league Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo will spearhead the HD Spikers, a team that also has Ysay Marasigan and former college stars Chu Njigha of Ateneo, Louie Ramirez of Perpetual and Edward Camposano of National University.
“I’m excited that the Spikers’ Turf is back since this is the league where it all started for us,” said Mr. Espejo, who had stints at the Japan V. League for Team FC Tokyo last season.
“We’ll do our best to defend our crown but we know that the competition will be tough this conference,” he added.
The Lions of Sta. Rosa City coached by Edward Lirio, for their part, will rely on a young but promising group consisting of players aged 18 years old and below.
Ateneo-Fudgee Bar, meanwhile, launches its title drive with skipper Lance De Castro and rookie Matthew Salarzon against a VNS-One Alicia squad headed by national team setter Ish Polvorosa.
NU-Sta. Elena, Army and Navy are the other squads seeing action in this tournament that will have the top four teams advancing to the best-of-three semifinals set Sept. 24 after the single-round eliminations.
The two finalists will then play another best-of-three series starting on Oct. 1.
The HD Spikers turned back the Air Force Jet Spikers twice to claim the Reinforced and Open crowns in 2019 before the country’s first and only men’s volley league, which Sports Vision launched in 2015, took a long break due to the pandemic. — Joey Villar