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Ateneo starts title bid vs JRU as PVL opens

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Today
(The Arena, San Juan City)
4 p.m. — Arellano vs St. Benilde (A)
6:30 p.m. — Ateneo vs JRU (B)

Powerhouse Ateneo and reigning NCAA titlist Arellano University intend to set their respective title bids in motion today when they take on separate rivals in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.

After finishing as bridesmaid to formidable National University for the past two years in the same tournament formerly known as the Shakey’s V-League, the Lady Eagles look to gain a fresh start as they start their new life without ace setter Jia Morado and top hitter Michelle Morente.

And the Lady Eagles have to do it in their early Group B showdown set at 6:30 p.m. with the Lady Bombers of Jose Rizal University who are out to spring some big surprises.

The Lady Chiefs could also get a fair share of the limelight when they collide with fellow Group A member, the Lady Blazers of St. Benilde, in the 4 p.m. opener.

Without half of its championship core, led by Railen Sante and Erica Calixto, who already graduated, Arellano coach Obet Javier is hoping key holdovers, bannered by Jovielyn Prado, Andrea Marzan and Anne Esguerra, can help fill up the gaping holes.

The Lady Blazers, considered as one of the Lady Chiefs’ top title threats in their NCAA title-retention bid, are tipped to rely mainly on mainstays Ranya Musa, Ariane Daguil and Rachel Austero.

All eyes, however, will be on the Lady Eagles who are eager to soar to greater heights behind the presence of top returnees Jho Maraguinot, Kim Gequillana, Ana Gopico, Kat Tolentino, Jules Samonte, Ponggay Gaston, Maddie Madayag, and skipper Bea De Leon.

Out to make an immediate impact for Ateneo is Dani Ravena, the younger sister of two-time UAAP basketball MVP Kiefer and current Blue Eagles star Thirdy who will share the playmaking chores with Deanna Wong.

JRU is eager to prove it won’t be any pushover as the Lady Bombers bring in veteran spiker Shola Alvarez, a member of Reinforced Conference champion Pocari Sweat, aside from Angela Bondoc, Annie Macaraya, Kassandra Ebuenga and setter Mercy Grace Rivera.