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(The Arena, San Juan)
9 a.m. – LPU vs Letran (w)
10:30 a.m. – Jose Rizal vs Mapua (w)
1 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
2 p.m. – St. Benilde vs Perpetual (w)
3:30 p.m. – San Sebastian vs Arellano (w)
5 p.m. – San Beda vs EAC (w)
St. Benilde opens its title defense against a dangerous Perpetual Help even as Grethcel Soltones seeks to help San Sebastian win a championship on her last season as they clash with Arellano U in today’s start of the 92nd NCAA women’s volleyball tournament at Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Last year’s Finals MVP Jeanette Panaga and seasoned Ranya Musa will be back to help the Lady Blazers win another championship after coming out of nowhere to pull the rug from under Soltones, the league’s reigning back-to-back MVP, and the Lady Stags and claim last season’s crown.
The Macky Cariño-mentored St. Benilde side, however, will have its hands full as it will take on a vastly improved Perpetual Help, which is coming off a solid runner-up finish to eventual champion Santo Tomas in the Uni Games in Dumaguete last month, in their 2 p.m. encounter.
“It will be tougher this year because all of the teams are now looking to beat us,” said Cariño in Filipino.
The CSB-Perpetual showdown will be preceded by the 1 p.m. opening ceremony that will be attended by members of the Management Committee including chair Jose Mari Lacson, volleyball organizing chairman Dax Castellano of St. Benilde, and Arellano’s Peter Cayco, the acting Larong Volleyball ng Pilipinas president.
Soltones and the Lady Stags, who have made it to the semifinals of the Shakey’s V-League-Season 13-Reinforced Conference a couple of months ago, for their part, will be tackling the Arellano U Lady Chiefs at 3:30 p.m. with an eye of jumpstarting their title campaign.
“This is my last season and I will give it my best to help us win a championship,” said Soltones, whose squad finished second in the last two seasons.
Other pairings pit Lyceum of the Phl U against Letran at 9 a.m., Jose Rizal versus Mapua at 10:30 a.m. and San Beda against Emilio Aguinaldo at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, the men’s division will unfurl on Wednesday with back-to-back-seeking Perpetual Help tackling St. Benilde at 11:30 a.m.
Other men’s schedule will pair LPU with Letran at 8:30 a.m., Jose Rizal with Mapua at 10 a.m., San Sebastian with Arellano at 1 p.m. and San Beda with EAC at 2:30 p.m.
Perpetual Help will defend its juniors crown starting on Friday against St. Benilde at 10:30 a.m. with LPU clashing with Letran at 9 a.m., San Sebastian battling Arellano at 12 noon and San Beda tangling with EAC at 1:30 p.m.