UVC, Foton lock horns in PSL kickoff
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - February 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Games today (Ynares-Pasig) (Viewed on ESPN5 and 5Plus)

3 p.m. – Opening ceremony 

4 p.m. – UVC vs Foton

6 p.m. – Sta. Lucia vs Generika-Ayala

MANILA, Philippines — New-look United Volleyball Club and former two-time champion Foton lock horns to kick off hostilities in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix today at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

UVC, the former Cocolife squad that went on a major recruiting binge, and Foton, the former titlist that has proven it’s still a force to reckon with despite the absence of stars Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat, take the floor at 4 p.m. in the first game of an explosive opening-day double-header.

Redemption-seeking Sta. Lucia, under new coach Babes Castillo, and Generika Ayala, a squad looking to carry its achievement in the 2018 All-Filipino Conference over the new season, engage in the main fare at 6 p.m.

But before the first serve of 2019, the eight teams hold a parade from Oranbo Barangay Hall going to Ynares Sports Arena for the formal opening ceremony at 3 p.m. with Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. chief Peter Cayco delivering the opening remarks and Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas giving the inspirational speech. 

PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico is set to declare the games open.

UVC lost libero Denden Lazaro and coach Moro Branislav but worked hard to form a solid roster by recruiting promising Fil-Am setter Alohi Robbins-Hardy, Bang Pineda from Generika and Kiwi Amy Ahomiro from Ateneo, getting back top attacker Kalei Mau, and enlisting imports Yasmeen Bedart-Ghani and Tau Manu Olevao.

“I think we have assembled a pretty competitive lineup,” said team official Joshua Ylaya, who will act as interim coach.

 Turkish national team mainstay Selime Ilyesoglu and American Courtney Felinski and new acquisition Elaine Kasilag join forces with Maika Ortiz, Ivy Perez, CJ Rosario, Gen Casugod and Shaya Adorador in trying to bring back the glory days of the Tornadoes, the first side to win a rare back-to-back GP titles.

Meanwhile, the Lifesavers aim to build up from their bronze medal finish in the AFC, tapping open spiker Nikolle del Rio of Brazil and middle blocker Kseniya Kocyvit of Azerbaijan to join the core of Marivic Meneses, Fiola Ceballos and Patty Orendain in launching another successful campaign.

“Our confidence is high,” said Generika-Ayala coach Sherwin Meneses. “As much as possible, we want to give our local players a lot of opportunities in the Grand Prix. That’s why we tapped a middle blocker and an open spiker as imports. We want to reward our locals for a job well done in the previous conference.”

On the other side stand the Lady Realtors, who are aiming to bounce back from a winless stint in the previous tournament with imports Molly Lohman and Casey Schoenlein, newbies Amanda Villanueva and Rio Lo and veterans Michelle Laborte, Rubie de Leon and Pam Lastimosa at the forefront.

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