Army tossers favored in Shakey’s V-L OpenBy Jasmine W. Payo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE PHILIPPINE Army again looms as favorite when the Shakey’s V-League Open conference fires off with a six-team field on Aug. 19 at Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila.
Army, which bagged the inaugural Open crown last year by downing San Sebastian, returns with its champion core led by sisters Michelle and Marietta Carolino, Joanne Buñag, Cristina Salak and Theresa Iratay.
Debuting Sandugo Sandals is expected to crowd the top squads with a formidable cast bannered by former MVPs Nerissa Bautista and Suzanne Roces.
Mentored by champion coach Roger Gorayeb, Sandugo also tapped league veterans Joy Benito, Angela Benting, Jill Gustilo, Rubie de Leon and Thai standouts Jeng Bualee and Utaiwan Kaensing.
Ateneo also remains as a contender with its solid crew of Alyssa Valdez, Fille Cainglet, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Jam Ferrer and Dennise Lazaro all returning.
Completing the field are Far Eastern University, Philippine Navy and Cagayan Province.
“Sandugo is the team to watch although Army and Ateneo remain formidable and the three others are capable of pulling off surprises,” said Ricky Palou, president of the organizing Sports Vision.
Cagayan Province also boasts the core of reigning NCAA volleyball champion Perpetual Help with April Sartin, Sandra delos Santos, Norie Jane Diaz and Shyrra Cabriana.
The top four teams at the end of the double-round elimination will advance to the crossover semifinals.