Inaugural Shakey’s Super League (SSL) National Invitationals champion De La Salle University and the rebuilding University of the Philippines will not participate in the 2023 SSL Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-season Championship.
The field of 18 teams from the previous year will be reduced to 16 teams.
The Lady Spikers cited injuries within the team as the reason for their withdrawal, while the Fighting Maroons are still in search of a new head coach to replace Shaq delos Santos.
National University leads the field and is placed in pool A alongside San Sebastian, Jose Rizal University, and the University of the East.
SSL National Invitationals runner-up Adamson University is in pool B along with Arellano University, Lyceum, and San Beda. Pool C consists of the reigning NCAA champion College of St. Benilde, University of Santo Tomas, Letran, and the University of Perpetual Help.
Completing the lineup are Ateneo, Far Eastern University, Mapua, and Emilio Aguinaldo College in pool D.
To kick off the season on Saturday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre, the University of Santo Tomas and the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta will face each other once again. The game is scheduled for 3 p.m., with the Golden Tigresses looking to assert their dominance over the Lady Altas after winning the bronze medal in the SSL’s inaugural national tournament last month with a 2-0 sweep.
At 5 p.m., NCAA squads San Beda and Arellano U aim to start their preparations on a high note after early exits in their respective mother leagues last season, completing the opening doubleheader.
A simple opening ceremony is set at 1:30 p.m. for the second edition of the 16-team SSL, supported by Mikasa, Eurotel, Victory Liner, Summit Bottle Water, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, R and B Milk Tea, Potato Corner, Rebel Sports, Converge ICT Solutions, and Genius Sports.
The second Collegiate Pre-Season Championship, introduced by Shakey’s in partnership with Athletic Events and Sports Management Inc. (ACES) last year, follows the success of other upstart leagues this year, including the historic Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) and the National Invitationals.
This time, all eyes will be on the Golden Tigresses and the Lady Altas as they kick off SSL Season 2 in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Our campaign in the Invitationals was successful last time. We hope that this will continue to be a platform for our preparation for the big league,” said UST assistant coach Lerma Giron, as young stars Angeline Poyos and Bernadett Pepito are expected to lead the way after being named the First Best Outside Hitter and Best Libero, respectively, in the National Invitationals.
“Our first opponent is Perpetual, so we want to take it one game at a time. We still have a lot to work on, and there’s room for improvement.”
Perpetual, on the other hand, is determined to give the UAAP powerhouse a tough challenge with NCAA MVP Mary Rhose Dapol leading the way. The Lady Altas, under the guidance of coach Sandy Rieta, reached new heights in the National Invitationals by eliminating two-time NCAA champion College of St. Benilde to advance to the Final Four.