Sta. Lucia takes leave from PVL; Ces Molina boosts Cignal
Cignal will return to volleyball action stronger than before. Sta. Lucia will be back in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) someday.
The Lady Realtors took a leave of absence from the PVL’s 2022 season due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic but team manager Buddy Encarnado said the team will be back once the health crisis returns to a more controllable environment.
“On top of our priority is the health and safety of our players,” said Encarnado. “We are sure to be back when the situation stabilizes perhaps by 2023 or even earlier.”
The development leaves Sta. Lucia’s stars open to playing for other teams, at least for the year. The Lady Realtors have a glut of talent in their roster, which features the likes of Mika Reyes, MJ Phillips, Bang Pineda, Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Jovie Prado, Dell Palomata, Djanel Cheng and Jonah Sabete.
Teams have been bracing for the next season and have been acquiring key personnel to bolster their ranks.
One of the latest was the HD Spikers, who signed quiet but effective national team standout Ces Molina from PetroGazz.
The move reunites Molina with Cignal coach Shaq delos Santos, who combined to help Petron win championships in the Philippine Superliga. Delos Santos and Molina also served together for the national team.
“We are good, but if you look at other teams they are even stronger,” said Delos Santos, who acquired four other players in the off-season.
Cignal had been holding face-to-face training until alert level 3 was raised in Metro Manila last week, effectively canning sports activities in the metropolis.
The rise of infections due to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has shut down leagues like the Philippine Basketball Association and has convinced teams like Sta. Lucia to wait out the current surge.
“It was a hard decision management had to make,” said Encarnado. “The ongoing worsening of the pandemic situation has brought about so many uncertainties.”
Sta. Lucia’s departure isn’t expected to leave that much of a dent in the PVL, which said it will have 10 teams competing for the 2022 season.
Reigning champion Chery Tiggo leads the field along with returning superpower F2 Logistics. A revamped Choco Mucho and regular heavyweight Creamline will also join the next tournament along with Cignal HD, PetroGazz, PLDT, BaliPure, Perlas and Philippine Army.
The league is set to begin its Open Conference in February either in Metro Manila or Tagaytay City.