To minimize close contact between the competing teams, the Premier Volleyball League has decided to eliminate the switching of court sides and handshakes for the upcoming Open Conference which opens this Saturday.
The FIVB Volleyball Nations League was the first to implement these changes last May.
“Okay lang sa kanila [teams] kasi it’s for their own good. Kasi the teams, they have their own equipment, water, ganon. So ‘pag lumipat, kung may infected doon, madadamay lahat,” PVL president Ricky Palo said.
“They understand naman. In fact, they welcome it nga at his point of time for safety precautionary measures. Actually sa FIVB, ganun ang ginawa, walang change court.”
Team handshakes will also no longer be part of the program to eliminate possible close contact scenarios.
As per league commissioner Tony Boy Liao, all of the 10 teams that will compete in the first-ever professional volleyball tournament in the country will have to observe the strict bubble protocols as set by the organizing committee; the Games and Amusements Board; and the local government unit of Ilocos Norte.
During the pre-game, teams can only use their side of the court for warm-ups. Competing squads will also have 30 minutes to stretch before the toss coin and team introductions.
“‘Pagka toss coin, mag-a-announce si Noel [Zarate], ‘yung barker… Bibigyan niya ng konting oras ‘yung dalawang teams if they want to bow, to wave, whatever kasi they will be panned by the TV eh. No handshakes,” explained Liao.
Then, teams will have 10 minutes for exercises with the ball before proceeding to the spiking warm-ups, which will last for just five minutes. Players are required to wear face masks all throughout the warm-ups.
Once the game begins, the teams’ starting six, the liberos, and the head coaches can opt to keep or remove their masks. However, the rest of the coaching staff and substitutes are required to wear their masks.
The rest of the team will sit in the bleachers behind the team’s coaching staff, with the exception of the libero and the incoming substitute.
Due to the size of the PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Baccara, the PVL committee has decided to remove the warm-up zones as well to ensure physical distancing measures. Players about to enter the game can warm up on their end of the court alone.
Right after the match, teams will head straight to their changing rooms and immediately march back to their respective buses. Competing teams will leave the venue one by one through separate exits.
While the players are changing, the 30-minute sanitation process will begin for the second match. The next set of teams will have to wait inside their buses, as they can only enter the venue once the first batch has already left the vicinity.
Teams also have one hour each to practice during their off days. Meanwhile, teams scheduled to hit the floor on the same day will not have permission to practice. An extra 15 minutes will be allotted for the sanitation process.
“We have 10 teams so how do we give them ample time for training? So, we decided to be fair, binigyan namin sila ng one hour per team kasi we need to allot time for sanitation,” said Liao.
“Supposedly 30 minutes, ginawa naming 15 minutes kaya kung titignan mo yung training schedule we start at six o’clock one hour, 15 minutes for sanitation, the next team will go in at 7:15 kasi bawal yung sabay [silang nasa loob ng venue] dapat labas muna yung isa [team], sanitation, then saka papasok yung pangalawa. So ganun ang mangyayari.”
According to Liao, teams are very receptive during the preliminary inquiries. In fact, the veteran volleyball official said that the teams are ‘happy’ with the allotted time and no one complained.
Liao also said that if ever the league finds success inside PCV Socio-Civic Cultural Center in Baccara, the league will opt to cancel its move to the Laoag Centennial Arena.
PLDT and Chery Tiggo will be the first teams to hit the court on Saturday at 1:00 pm followed by the Perlas-Cignal bout at 4:00 pm and the main event, Creamline against Sta. Lucia at 7:00 pm.
Games will be held without an audience. They will telecast on One Sports (Free to Air), and One Sports+ (Pay TV), with both channels available for linear streaming on Cignal Play and on gigafest.smart.
Fans can also watch via live streaming on pvl.ph.