The crown jewel of the PSL season is set to begin on Saturday, as the import-laden Grand Prix will cap another eventful year for the only FIVB-recognized league in the country.
In a press conference earlier today at the Center Stage restaurant, PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara presented most of the foreign players that will reinforce the teams this conference.
Suzara also assured that the imports participating this conference have secured proper documentation from their respective National Sports Associations that allows them to play in other countries.
This comes after their rival league had encountered problems with their imports.
“I can assure that all our imports have secured the proper documents required for them to play,” Suzara said. “We’re very thankful to the LVPI and the respective NSA’s of the different imports for helping us in bringing top-level volleyball talent in the country.”
Among the six teams, the Cignal HD Spikers seem likely title favorites after retooling their team with local free agents and three foreign players.
Fil-Am setter Shawna Santos is tasked to orchestrate the Cignal offense, while Puerto Rican Olympian Lynda Morales and American winger Laura Schaudt add height to an already-tall Cignal team.
Defending Grand Prix champs Foton Tornadoes will enter with returning American open hitters Lindsay Stalzer and Ariel Usher to boost their repeat bid.
The two have already served as Foton’s imports in the AVC Asian Women’s Club Championship played in Biñan, Laguna where they finished seventh. Having already trained with the team for more than a month, Foton’s imports have the distinct advantage of familiarity with their teammates.
“People say that it’s a huge advantage for us to have already been with the team for a pretty long time now. But I’m sure the other imports are also good and talented and it’s going to be a very competitive conference,” said Usher.
“Petron had the same advantage last year but we ended up beating them in the Finals. So, hopefully, that won’t happen to us,” Stalzer added.
Finalists last season, the Petron Tri-Activ Spikers tapped open hitters Stephanie Niemer and Serena Warner to add to their deep lineup of wingers.
The young Generika Lifesavers have brough over Polish middle hitter Polina Liutikova, and Trinidad and Tobago’s Darlene Ramdim to continue the positive momentum they have generated from a fifth place finish in the All-Filipino Conference.
With uncertainty looming over their lineup, the RC Cola-Army Lady Troopers have opted to add two American open hitters – Kierra Holst and Hailie Ripley.
2016 All-Filipino Conference Champs F2 Logistics were not able to present their imports in the press conference but their two selections – Kennedy Bryan and Sydney Kemper – are already on the way to the country.