National University tries to retain the crown as the much-anticipated second season of the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championships fires off this weekend at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
With last year’s championship rival La Salle and the University of the Philippines begging off due to a conflict of schedule, the NU Lady Spikers’ quest for a second straight title is close to possible.
The Lady Bulldogs, who swept their way to clinching the inaugural honors last year, lead the 16-team squad from UAAP and NCAA – the country’s two foremost collegiate leagues – who are using the event as appetizers for upcoming collegiate volleyball season.
Season 1 MVP Alyssa Solomon with former UAAP Rookie-MVP Mhicaela Belen are expected to spearhead NU under the mentorship of returning tactician Norman Miguel.
NU leads Pool A with the San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Jose Rizal U, and the souped-up University of the East bannered by super rookie Casiey Dongallo, who won the MVP plum in the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) national high school tournament last summer.
SSL National Invitationals runner-up Adamson spearheads Pool B with Arellano U, Lyceum of the Philippines U, and San Beda U while Pool C has reigning NCAA champion College of St. Benilde, University of Santo Tomas, Colegio de San Juan de Letran and University of Perpetual Help System Dalta.
Completing the cast are Ateneo, under new coach Sergio Veloso, Far Eastern U, Mapua, and Emilio Aguinaldo College in Pool D.
“It’s Year 2 for us in the SSL but we have been here for 13 straight years from 2005 to 2018. We’re part of the growth of women’s volleyball particularly at the collegiate and grassroots level. It has been an honor to be back in volleyball,” said Shakey’s Pizza Asia Ventures Inc., (SPAVI) president and CEO Vic Gregorio during the meet media conference on Thursday at the Shakey’s Malate branch.
Gregorio was joined by general manager Jorge Concepcion, organizing ACES president Dr. Ian Laurel, NCAA Mancom representative Peter Cayco, broadcast partner Patrico Bermudez-Hizon, and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Fritz Gaston.
“It’s only Year 2 in our return to volleyball but we’re looking forward to more. That’s our mission. It’s almost a dream come true. There is no doubt seeing teams from the NCAA and UAAP in one organized tournament is a sight to behold. We’re excited,” said Gaston.
Like in Season 1, the SSL will implement an all-to-play system for a bigger vision of giving maximum exposure to all players – for the benefit of their individual and overall team development with more playing time.
“It’s an exciting time for us. Once again, we will use the all-to-play system to give chance for all the players to play during the games. This SSL second season is a testament to the support given by the fans, schools, and Shakey’s that represents fun, family, and pizza. Shakey’s really equates with volleyball,” said Athletic Events and Sports Management Inc., (ACES) president Dr. Ian Laurel.
All 16 teams will slug it out in a single-round robin format within their respective pools with the top two teams advancing in the knockout quarterfinals.
The semifinals will also be in a knockout format while the finals and the bronze medal match will be played in a best-of-three series.
Games start on Saturday at the Filoil EcoOil Center with a triple-header featuring Perpetual against UST, Adamson vs Lyceum and San Beda opposite Arellano after the opening ceremonies at 10 a.m.
The refurbished Rizal Memorial Coliseum, which served as the venue last year, will also host games including the finals.