The biggest Premier Volleyball League conference yet.
This is going to be one loaded volleyball conference.
The PVL Invitational Conference will be kicking off on June 27 with 13 squads competing for the crown—the most ever for the pro league yet.
The Foton Tornadoes, Farm Fresh Foxies, and Gerflor Defenders will enter as the new member squads to push the number of local teams to 11. The two foreign guests, meanwhile, have yet to be named.
"With volleyball in the country growing by leaps and bounds over the past decade, we feel that it's about time to increase the number of member teams in the PVL," said league president Ricky Palou.
"This will not only bring more excitement for our fans but also provide players with more opportunities to have a career in volleyball. The new teams are also committed to staying with us in the long term."
The Tornadoes are returning to competitive volleyball after four years. Foton was the original name of the Chery Tiggo Crossovers during the Philippine Super Liga. Now, they are sister teams in the PVL.
"With two teams, this will give our company added exposure and our players a chance to further hone their skills," said Aaron Velez, who is the team manager of Foton as well as the head coach of Chery Tiggo.
The Foxies, on the other hand, will feature the core of the College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers, and will have former Adamson Lady Falcons coach Jerry Yee as chief tactician.
"Chemistry won't be a problem for us since the Lady Blazers never really stopped training even after the NCAA season," said Foxies team manager Janica Lao.
Meanwhile, the Defenders will be tapping veterans along with players from the collegiate ranks. They will be coached by Edgar Barroga.
"We are thrilled to finally be a part of the PVL. We have organized and participated in several leagues to qualify for the opportunity to compete in the PVL, which we believe is the most prestigious league in the country," said team manager Jordan Tolentino.
The eleven local teams will be divided into two groups.
Group A will be composed of defending champion Creamline Cool Smashers, along with Chery Tiggo, PLDT High Speed Hitters, Akari Chargers, and Gerflor.
Group B will be made up of the Petro Gazz Angels, F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, Choco Mucho Flying Titans, Cignal HD Spikers, Farm Fresh, and Foton.
The Army Black Mamba Lady Troopers decided to sit out this conference and allowed its players to sign up with other teams, with Jovelyn Gonzaga taking her talents to Cignal, Royse Tubino going to PLDT, and Luth Malaluan signing with Akari.
The top two teams in each pool will advance to the round-robin semifinals, along with the two foreign teams. Their head-to-head record will be carried over.
The top two squads in the semifinals will then advance to the winner-take-all finals, while the third and fourth-ranked teams will compete for the bronze medal.