A record nine teams will be seeing action when the Chooks To Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Grand Prix fires off on Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Bannered by Serbians Sara Klisura and Katarina Vukamanovic as well as Montenegrin Dragana Perunicnic, two-time champion Foton remains the heavy favorite while Petron, Cignal and F2 Logistics are tipped to give the powerhouse squad a serious fight.
The Blaze Spikers will bank on seasoned reinforcement Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley of the United States with Yuri Fukuda of Japan serving as libero, while the HD Spikers addressed their needs at the defensive end with the recruitment of Beth Carey of Australia, Alexis Matthews of United States and Mami Miyashita of Japan.
The Cargo Movers will rest injured spiker Ara Galang, but her absence will be hardly felt with the acquisition of Kennedy Bryan of United States and Olympian Maria Jose Perez of Venezuela.
“With a record of nine teams, this is going to be the biggest PSL ever,” said PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara during the press launch graced by PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico, ESPN5 head Patricia Bermudez-Hizon and Bounty Agro Ventures president Ronald Mascarinas.
“We have a very competitive field and all teams are capable of coming up with a very good fight. This is going to be a very great season and we know that only the strongest will survive.”
Bermudez-Hizon added that all games will be shown live on ESPN5 with the first match set at 4 pm and the second match at 6 pm.
Also seeing action are Generika-Ayala, Sta. Lucia Realty, Cocolife and new teams Iriga City and University of Santo Tomas.
The Lifesavers will parade Katarina Pilepic of Croatia, Penina Snuka of Hawaii and Darlene Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago, who is just fresh from leading her country to the FIVB World Championship in Japan next year.
Sta. Lucia, meanwhile, will have Canadian national team members Marisa Field and Kristen Moncks and Ukrainian Bodhana Anisova at the forefront while Cocolife will bank on Tai Manu-Olevao and Taylor Milton of the United States.
Iriga City is also a force despite being the league’s newest member. The Lady Oragons will parade Tamara Kmezic of Serbia, who is the tallest import ever to play in the PSL at 6-foot-6. Kmezic will be assisted by Japanese libero Minami Yoshioka as well as local star Grethcel Soltones.
The Lady Tigresses, meanwhile, is the only team without an import as they would be competing as a guest team in preparation for the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament next year.