Coaches of the PVL teams during the press conference for the 2023 All-Filipino conference. –PVL PHOTO

Coaches of the PVL teams during the press conference for the 2023 All-Filipino conference. –PVL PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Premier Volleyball League is bringing back its pre-pandemic rituals, including the traditional handshakes and change court, starting in the 2023 All-Filipino Conference next Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

PVL tournament Director Tonyboy Liao revealed the development of easing its health and safety protocols for the first time after four years.

“We will repeat the protocols that happened before the pandemic. During the match, when both teams are introduced during the pandemic, both teams take a bow with their hands. But now, you go straight to the opponent and shake hands with them,” said Liao during the press conference on Saturday at Discovery Suites. “We are also bringing back the switch sides. So, every other set, change courts.”

Liao added that the league is still providing bottled alcohol for both teams that they can use before, during, and after the match.

Defending champion Creamline, which didn’t undergo changes in its line-up, will defend its crown with star spiker Alyssa Valdez still uncertain when she will return to action due to her knee injury last season.

But coach Sherwin Meneses, who steered his team to two championships last season, said they intended to retain their roster, believing familiarity and chemistry are their biggest advantages.

“Our number 1 game plan is to retain all the players. Because our continuous system and chemistry will be an advantage,” Meneses said in Filipino. “The other teams strengthen their line-ups. For us, we will be focusing on our own improvement. Hopefully, we will have a great season even if we won’t have Alyssa early this season.”


Players from the PVL teams during the press conference for the 2023 All-Filipino conference. –PVL PHOTO

Players from the PVL teams during the press conference for the 2023 All-Filipino conference. –PVL PHOTO

The other eight clubs underwent major changes with Choco Mucho tapping multi-titled men’s coach Dante Alinsunurin, F2 Logistics signing coach Regine Diego and star spiker Myla Pablo, Petro Gazz acquiring coach Oliver Almadro, Reinforced champion coach Rald Ricafort transferring to PLDT, and Akari getting most sought-after spiker Dindin Santiago-Manabat.

Reinforced runner-up Cignal, which also won bronze in the first two conferences last year, also beefed up its roster after signing former FEU stalwarts Chinchin Basas, Gyzelle Sy, and Gen Casugod reuniting with coach Shaq Delos Santos. Chery Tiggo also reinstated Aaron Velez as head coach, calling the shots for his Mylene Paat-led squad, while Army debuts coach Randy Fallorina and play without Jovelyn Gonzaga due to her commitment to the Philippine women’s beach volleyball team.

“I’m sure the fans will enjoy this. Even I am expecting the games to be more exciting this time. The teams have recruited players to strengthen their line-up so we expect a really good All-Filipino Conference this time around,” said PVL president Ricky Palou.

New Choco Mucho coach Alinsunurin believes Creamline and Petro Gazz are the teams to beat. But Diego and Velez are anticipating a wide-open race.

“For F2, because of all these changes with the coaches and with so much transfer. I think everybody should not be complacent. We have to prepare all the time because I think everybody is a threat, and every game is going to be a learning game for us,” said the new Cargo Movers coach Diego.

“For me, you can’t sleep on any team. As we saw from the previous conference, you won’t expect less because everyone will give you a good fight. So everybody is a contender,” Velez said.

The All-Filipino Conference will open next week with Creamline and Petro Gazz, the finalists of last year’s Open, facing each other on February 4 at the Big Dome at 6 p.m. after the Akari-Choco Mucho game.

The video challenge system will be implemented every game with the nine club teams clashing in a single round-robin in the elimination round. The Top 4 squads will advance to the semifinals and will play another round-robin.

The best two teams will play a best-of-three Finals series, while the No.3 and No.4 seeds will clash in a bronze series.


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