PVL’s star continues to shine bright
A year before it celebrates 15 years of existence, the Premier Volleyball League embarks on a new journey amid a sea of challenges.
The rise of a rival league has gave the need to develop newer stars to beef up its roster of teams. There is also the need to build more relationships with corporate sponsors.
But the greatest challenge is to remain true to the vision of the league’s original founders when it wanted to highlight women’s sports by giving the country’s top volleyball athletes a playground of their own.
“When we started out, we really wanted an outlet for these girls’ talents even after their collegiate years,” Ricky Palou, president of tournament organizer Sports Vision, told the Inquirer in a previous interview.
The league has gone way beyond that. It has served as a prep-up of sorts for teams playing in the collegiate leagues, providing them with preseason competition that tests their squads before the varsity wars begin.
It has also served as the birthplace of stars.
Then known as the Shakey’s V-League, the innovating tournament became the launch pad of several of the country’s biggest stars, including the biggest of them all: Alyssa Valdez.
The former Ateneo stalwart has become the face of Philippine volleyball, her skills taking her to several tournaments abroad, both as a star for national teams and as an import for other countries’ club teams.
The ex-Lady Eagle has also blazed the trail for other volleyball superstars so that they now are able to match their counterparts in men’s basketball in terms of celebrity status.
Anywhere there’s a volleyball game—whether it’s collegiate or club competitions, fans now go wild over seeing their favorite stars in action. They take photos, hunt for autographs and chat up their idols, who end up making a huge impact on their lives.
But that works both ways, too.
“When a fan approaches me, it also brightens my day,” said Valdez, who once brought a fan to tears by simply giving her life advice during a radio guesting at Inquirer’s live sports talk show, Sports IQ.
Valdez isn’t the only star to come out of the PVL program.
San Sebastian’s Grethcel Soltones, a feared hitter, also grew her game in the courts of the PVL, along with the likes of Myla Pablo, Jia Morado, Steph Mercado, Wensh Tiu and Michele Gumabao.
Jaja Santiago and her equally towering sister, Dindin Manabat, also starred in the PVL before moving on to other leagues, local and foreign. The two are now playing as imports in Japan.
Rachel Daquis, the former FEU star who ventured into part-time modeling once turned heads in the Shakey’s tournament.
The legends of the game managed to grab their share of success in the early years of the PVL’s forebear, the V-League.
Angeli Tabaquero, now an assistant coach with the Adamson Lady Falcons in the UAAP, strutted her wares in the V-League, helping University of Santo Tomas dominate the early years of the tournament.
The list of the other big names go on: Charo Soriano, now a regular campaigner in beach volleyball, Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Mary Jane Balse and others can trace some of their success to the PVL.
And as it wraps up yet another successful tournament, the league is ready to grow some more.
How far it will go? No one knows. But one thing’s for sure: When history views the PVL decades from now, it will see a league that championed the talents of women’s athletes and gave them a league of their own to shine. —INQUIRER SPORTS
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.