SUBIC – After 11 months of inactivity, volleyball is finally back.
The Philippine Superliga (PSL) formally makes a historic return as eight teams clash for pride and glory in the 2021 Gatorade-Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup starting Friday at the Subic Bay sand courts.
With no reported case of coronavirus infection out of 56 players, coaches and league staff, it’s all systems go for this special bubble tourney that is being held in cooperation with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) Region 3.
Action fires off at 8 a.m. with Bang Pineda and Jonah Sabete of Sta. Lucia 2 coming in as heavy favorites when they collide with Arianne Luna Alarcon and Christina Canares of Kennedy Solar Energy-PetroGazz in Pool A.
Meanwhile, Chery Tiggo will carry the colors of United Auctioneers, Inc. with Ella Viray and Therese Ramas seeing action against Jennifer Cosas and Gelimae Villanueva of Abanse Negrense 2 at 9 a.m. in Pool B while F2 Logistics fields Jenny Mar Senares and Kyla Angela Gallego against Alexa Polidario and Erjan Magdato of Abanse Negrense 1 in the 10 a.m. battle in Pool A.
Matches will be streamed live on the YouTube channel of the PSL. The tournament also has Cherrylume, Ube Express and Subic Bay Peninsular Hotel as sponsors and Cocolife, Cocogen Insurance, Data Project and Genius Sports as technical partners.
PSL president Ian Laurel said the PSL is honored to become the first non-professional volleyball tournament to restart its season after securing the IATF nod thorough Resolution 79 dated Oct. 15, 2020.
“We are very happy that volleyball is finally coming back, especially with the help of SBMA and IATF Region 3. Even if there’s a pandemic, with the help of the IATF and the LGU (local government unit), we were able to bring back the sport,” Laurel said.
“We can actually share the message to all leagues that they should not be discouraged. Our athletes should continue their training because there will come a time that tournaments would be allowed with the help of the IATF and the LGU.”
Aside from Pineda and Sabete, also tipped to dominate is the pair of DM Demontano and Jackie Estoquia of Sta. Lucia 2 following their back-to-back bridesmaid finishes in the past editions of this tournament.
Demontano and Estoquia kick off their title bid against Jonah San Pedro and Javen Sabas of Toby’s Sports at 11 a.m. before returning to action at 5 p.m. against Abanse Negrense 2.
“We’re a little nervous, but we remain positive and we’re excited to play again. We will do our best in every game and we know that everyone is eager and hungry to win,” Estoquia said.
“We feel blessed since beach volleyball was given a chance to compete in a bubble setting. We will make sure to be always ready physically and mentally. In every game, we will give everything to win.”