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Can Lady Chiefs score title repeat?

All eyes will be on the Arellano Lady Chiefs as they try to defend their volleyball crown. —TRISTAN TAMAYO/INQUIRER.NET

San Sebastian begins NCAA mission with just nine players Arellano University opens defense of its NCAA women’s volleyball crown against Mapua while last season’s losing finalist San Sebastian begins it trek to dust off unfinished business when it begins a new era Thursday at Filoil Flying V Arena.

The Lady Chiefs will parade a roster virtually untouched by graduation while the Lady Stags, who got swept in last season’s title series, start a new chapter in their history after three-time MVP Grethcel Soltones maxed out her eligibility.

Regine Anne Arocha, Necole Ebuen, Andrea Marzan and Jovielyn Prado are back for Arellano, which battles the Lady Cardinals at 1:30 p.m. The Lady Stags, meanwhile, will play the whole season with just nine players starting with the 12-noon duel with the Emilio Aguinaldo Lady Generals.

SSC coach Roger Gorayeb, who is expected to rely heavily on veterans Alyssa Eroa, Vira May Guillema, Joyce Sta. Rita and Dangie Encarnacion, however, remained confident of their chances.

“We’re still a fighting team but we have to avoid injuries,” said Gorayeb.

Gorayeb also said they hadmoved on from last year’s heartbreak.

“That’s already a thing of the past and we’re already looking at the future,” he said. “In fact, after this year, we have four or five recruits coming in and we expect them to really make a significant impact on the team right away.”

Arellano, which will be coached by Obet Javier, will try to ride on its magical season last year when they defied the odds to dismantle a San Sebastian team that swept its way to the Finals.

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