MANILA, Philippines – The Premier Volleyball League (PVL) kicks off its new season with the 2023 All-Filipino Conference on Saturday, February 4, with a stacked double-header at the Araneta Coliseum.
Starting off the hostilities at 4 pm are the upstart Akari Chargers – now led by star blocker Dindin Santiago-Manabat – taking on the ever-popular Choco Mucho Flying Titans, now coached by men’s national volleyball team coach Dante Alinsunurin.
Meanwhile at 6 pm, the Creamline Cool Smashers will begin their title defense against their longtime rivals, the newly crowned 2022 Reinforced Conference champion Petro Gazz Angels, now mentored by former Choco Mucho coach Oliver Almadro.
Then as a Valentine’s Day treat to PVL fans, the league has matched up Creamline and Choco Mucho for a February 14 sister team showdown, still at the Araneta Coliseum at 6 pm.
In their last meeting at the 2022 Reinforced Conference, the Cool Smashers and Flying Titans notched a PVL-pandemic record 19,117 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena despite their contest being held on a weekday at the time.
Other marquee matchups in the all-Filipino conference include a 4 pm match on February 7 at the PhilSports Arena between the Mika Reyes-led PLDT High Speed Hitters and the F2 Cargo Movers, now bannered by their big off-season acquisition, two-time PVL MVP Myla Pablo.
PLDT is also parading its own off-season haul: newly crowned champion coach Rald Ricafort, Pablo’s one-time mentor with Petro Gazz.
Then on February 9 at 6 pm, Almadro will hand his former wards a big challenge as Petro Gazz takes on Choco Mucho at the FilOil EcoOil Centre.
Still at PhilSports, F2 faces Akari next on February 11 at 6 pm in an early litmus test for two potential playoff contenders.
After its Valentine’s Day date with Choco Mucho, Creamline will next turn its focus to F2 in a potential finals preview on February 18 at 6 pm, also at PhilSports.
On March 2 at 4 pm, the Cignal HD Spikers take on Choco Mucho in another early battle to gauge playoff possibilities, while Petro Gazz faces F2 in another important game at 6 pm.
Although all elimination round games are already up on the PVL website, the schedule is still subject to change. Also, no venues have been announced yet for games beyond March 9.
Fans should expect volleyball overload from February to March as the PVL Open is expected to run concurrently with the UAAP Season 85 women’s and men’s volleyball tournaments, the NCAA Season 98 women’s volleyball tournament, and the ongoing Spikers’ Turf men’s volleyball Open Conference. – Rappler.com