BALIPURE hopes to spring a surprise with its young, energetic crew as it kicks off its Premier Volleyball League campaign against Iriga-Navy even as Petro Gazz and Tacloban clash in a duel of opening day losers in the Reinforced Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan today.
Fielding in a practically new squad after its mainstays, including coach Roger Gorayeb, moved to PayMaya during the off-season, the Purest Water Defenders remain upbeat of their chances on a team built around the core of young guns and rising stars of four-peat UAAP girls volley champion National University.
Two-time UAAP MVP and two-time Finals MVP Faith Nisperos and three-time Best Setter Joyme Cagande will banner the team that ruled the PVL Open Conference last year. Backstopping the squad are UAAP Season 80 MVP Mhicaela Belen, libero Jennifer Nierva, towering Alyssa Solomon and Ivy Lacsina, and Princess Robles, who played for the Babes Castillo-mentored Lady Bulldogs that dominated the inaugural PVL Collegiate Conference last year.
A slew of NU seniors team members in Rica Diolan, libero Gayle Valdez, Rosleyn Doria, Roma Joy Doromal and Audrey Paran will provide the experience and poise for the squad reinforced by Alexis Mathews.
They will be as much tested in their 4 p.m. encounter with the Iriga-Navy Oragons, who will be bannered by imports Macy Ubben and Lauren Whyte with coach Egay Rusit also pinning his hopes on his local veterans Grazielle Bombita, Charmaine dela Cruz, Janet Serafica, Shyrra Cabriana, Reynelen Raterta, Hezzymie Acuña and Diane Ticar among others.
The winner will join fancied Creamline and PayMaya in the lead in the early going of the season-opening conference organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Petro Gazz and Tacloban, on the other hand, collide at 6:30 p.m. with both teams out to bounce back from their losses to Creamline and PayMaya, respectively.
Both games will be aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and via streaming on www.sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream.
Also on tap is the men’s division with Air Force clashing with PLDT at 10 a.m. and Instituto Estetico Manila facing off opening day winner Army at 12 noon. Both matches can be viewed live via livestream.
Meanwhile, defending champion Pocari, linking up with Air Force, opens its title retention drive on Saturday when the league holds its first out-of-town game in Tuguegarao. The Lady Warriors will take on the PayMaya High Flyers at 2 p.m., while the Cool Smashers likewise go for win No. 2 against a debuting BanKo-Perlas side at 4 p.m.