After more than a decade of absence, volleyball action returns to the newly renovated Rizal Memorial Sports Complex with opening of the Shakey’s Super Volley League 2022 Pre-Season Championship.
The tournament for women will feature 18 varsity teams from the University Athletic Association of the Philippines and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and will have four games done at the historic Rizal Memorial Coliseum in the City of Manila.
The new playing surface at the 88-year-old facility will have a new feel to the players, as no volleyball has been played at the RMSC since a tournament was last held there in 2005.
For SSL president and CEO Ian Laurel, it will definitely be unfamiliar for the players, but they are guaranteed to have memorable games.
“After such a long time, ngayon lang magagamit,” said Laurel, who added that newly-appointed Philippine Sports Commission chairman Noli Eala made it possible for them use to the venue again following recent talks.
Laurel spoke of the SSL’s coming tournament during a press conference on Saturday at the PSC Hall inside the RMSC in Vito Cruz, Manila.
SSL chairman Philip Juico was also around with Shakey’s president and CEO Vic Gregorio, and Commission of Higher Education tertiary sports development and management unit project head Ana Dulce Yango.
This will be the first time that local competitions will be held at the RMSC after it was closed following renovations were done before it was used during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
The PSC also closed it down for around two years and six months for training and tournaments after it was converted into a COVID-19 quarantine facility at the height of the pandemic.
Defending NCAA champion CSB Lady Blazers coach Jerry Yee said his players will very unfamiliar with the environment, and this will challenge them in their opening game against the Far Eastern University Tamaraws at 4 p.m.
“Napakatagal nang walang laro dito. Never pa. Not for the last three years, not when I was coach of UP (University of the Philippines),” said Yee, who is preparing the Lady Blazers for their third title retention bid.
The Lady Blazers are in Pool D with Letran, La Salle and FEU, while the Lady Stags are bunched with Emilio Aguinaldo College, Lyceum, Adamson and University of Santo Tomas in Pool B.
Earlier, University of the East clashes with Mapua University at 12nn, while San Beda University collides with the University of Perpetual Help Lady Altas at 2 p.m.
San Beda is in Pool A with the Lady Altas, Mapua, University of the Philippines, and University of the East.
Later at 6 p.m., the Adamson Lady Falcons battles the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses.
Cancer survivor and San Sebastian Lady Stags coach Roger Gorayeb said his young team will enjoy playing at the venue, given its historical significance.
“Matagal na matagal. At least makikita ng mga players ang historical significance ng venue kapag naglaro sila dito,” said Gorayeb.
Arellano University is bracketed in Pool C with Jose Rizal University, Ateneo, and National University.