Back to where it all began | Inquirer Sports
One Game At A Time

Back to where it all began

/ 12:35 AM July 10, 2015

The Shakey’s V-League returns this weekend with the tournament format it started with and became the anchor of the emergence of volleyball as a viable and vibrant sport.

Tomorrow, the league’s collegiate tournament featuring 12 teams kicks off with some of its staple favorite squads returning to action and some new outfits looking for more volleyball experience.

These include UAAP back-to-back champion Ateneo; league pioneers University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University; NCAA powerhouses San Sebastian College, College of St. Benilde and Arellano; National University, University of the Philippines, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, La Salle Dasmariñas, University of Batangas and Technological Institute of the Philippines.

Two guest players are allowed to boost line-ups.  Over the years, these “imports” have been veteran players, alumnae or Thai players.  This feature has helped even out the playing field where teams that may not have competitive line-ups can have a fighting chance against the bigger lights.

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The favorites can be expected to set the pace of the games.  Ateneo, UST, NU and FEU have been busy competitively with many of their players seeing action in the under-23 Asian tournament and the SEA games.

Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez is sure to be a fan magnet anew with her devastating spikes and her winsome smile that have attracted followers from all walks of life.  In her last season as a Lady Eagle, she will carry on her shoulders a collection of new faces that will rely on her leadership for the V-League and the UAAP wars down the road.

The collegiate tournament is arguably the V-League’s foremost contribution to the building of the sport in the country.  Yes, there are the staple tournaments like the UAAP, NCAA and other collegiate leagues.  But the V-League helped school teams with different levels of skill to be competitive for their own leagues.  The exposure on television, print and later online media compelled teams to improve their games.

Ateneo is an example of a team that just kept on participating in the V-League and improved over the years.  Aside from recruiting more talent, the Lady Eagles played on because it knew that the competition would keep its players sharp.

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The improvement is honed not only in games but also in training.  Though it’s true that guest players take more of the playing time that regular team members could have, the infusion of guest talent makes the whole team prepare as a unit.  You still need six other players to defend against the starting unit and that’s where players get better.

This is where a team like the UP could continue to grow by constantly playing in the V-League.  The Lady Fighting Maroons made a significant run for a semifinal slot in the last UAAP and there’s no doubt that its continued exposure to tough competition will make the team stronger.

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It’s true that our national teams didn’t too well in the recent SEA Games and the Under-23 Asian tournament. But at least the Philippines is back in the Asian volleyball scene and this return was engineered with the V-League’s help.  When its collegiate tournament unfurls this weekend, we’ll get to see more future stars who will make a bigger impact for the national team and the game.

Follow the sports talk on Twitter @spsortssev

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TAGS: Shakey’s V-League, Volleyball

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