The road back to the finals gets more difficult for the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers as seven other teams will put up a serious fight in the Chooks-to-Go/PSL Grand Prix, which kicks off this Saturday at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig City.
The Petron Blaze Spikers, the Cocolife Asset Managers, and the Generika-Ayala Lifesavers loom as heavy favorites, while the Cignal HD Spikers, the Foton Tornadoes, the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors, and new team SMART Prepaid Giga Hitters also expected to spring plenty of surprises this conference.
This is the first time for the league to open its season with an import-flavored conference, while the Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup, All-Filipino Conference, and Invitational Conference will follow in the latter part of the year.
PSL president Ramon “Tats” Suzara said this major change was done to sync the league calendar with the Asian Volleyball Confederation and the International Volleyball Federation.
“The PSL is an active player in the international volleyball arena and it is only fitting that we sync our schedule with those of the AVC and FIVB to give our players good exposure,” said Suzara, the marketing and development committee chairman of the AVC and a member of the FIVB.
PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico expressed his gratitude to the teams who agreed to compete in the Grand Prix early in the year.
“This is a very special occasion because it is the first time that we hold the Grand Prix at this time of the year,” said Juico. “We’re very grateful to the teams not only for agreeing to shift the calendar, but also for bringing in very good players both locals and overseas. We look forward to an exciting conference.”
Formal opening of the new season is set for February 24 at the Sta. Rosa City Sports Complex in Laguna.
The Blaze Spikers will be marching with a vengeance after losing to F2 Logistics in dramatic fashion in the best-of-three finals last year.
Petron’s American imports Lindsay Stalzer and Hillary Hurley, as well as Japanese Yuri Fukuda, will be back to counter the power of F2 Logistics’ reinforcements Kennedy Bryan, Maria Jose Perez and new recruit Minami Yoshioka.
Taylor Milton of the United States and Sara Klisura of Serbia will also be back for the Asset Managers, while Darlene Ramdin of Trinidad and Tobago and Symone Hayden of the US, who replaces the injured Katarina Pilepic, return for the Lifesavers.
Jeane Horton of the US and Sonja Milanovic of Bosnia will banner the HD Spikers; while the Tornadoes will lean on Brooke Kanda of the US, Elizabeth Wendel of Canada and Katarina Vukamanovic of Serbia. The Lady Realtors will lean on Bohdana Anisova of Ukraine and Kristen Moncks and Marisa Field of Canada; and the Giga Hitters will have Gyselle De La Caridad and Silva and Lisbet Arredondo Reyes of Cuba.