A SHORTHANDED Smart squad seeks a third straight victory when it battles Meralco today even as heavy favorite Army finally makes its debut in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 Open Conference at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Smart, which has won twice despite playing with an incomplete lineup, and Meralco take the floor at 4 p.m., after an all-Armed Forces duel pitting Army and Air Force.
Boasting former national team stalwarts, Army will go into the 2 p.m. clash as the heavy favorite.
Former league MVPs Mary Jean Balse and Nene Bautista will be tasked to lead the Troopers, who are looking to duplicate their title romp two years ago.
The star-studded Army squad also includes veteran internationalists Michelle Carolino and Tina Salak, who will serve as the chief orchestrator of the attack.
Air Force will be looking to bounce back from a four-set drubbing it absorbed from powerhouse Cagayan Valley last Thursday.
Smart hardly encountered problems in its first two matches. Coach Roger Gorayeb’s charges prevailed over Far Eastern U and Philippine National Police in dominant fashion.
Sue Roces and Gretchel Soltones took turns in finding gaps on the PNP defense as Smart hammered out a 25-14, 25-15, 25-17 victory last Thursday.
Except for libero Melissa Gohing, all eight players scored for Gorayeb in the win over PNP.
But Meralco will also go into the game confident after pulling off a marathon five-set triumph over PNP in its debut last week.
Smart offers a tougher challenge for Meralco and the likes of Maureen Penetrante and Stephanie Mercado are expected to have their hands full in today’s duel.