TEAM TO BEAT. The Petro Gazz Angels celebrate their Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Reinforced Conference title in 2022. Petro Gazz remains the team to beat as it battles Creamline in the opener of the All-Filipino conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Saturday (Feb. 4, 2023). (Photo courtesy of PVL)

MANILA – The 2023 season of the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) will kick off with the All-Filipino Conference at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Saturday.

The main game at 6:30 p.m. features Petro Gazz, the 2022 Reinforced Conference champion, and Creamline, winner of the 2022 Open and Invitational conferences.

The Creamline Cool Smashers, who won last year's two conferences over the Petro Gazz Angels, will be playing minus team captain Alyssa Valdez, who is still nursing a right knee injury she sustained during the battle-for-third match against Chery Tiggo in the 2022 Reinforced Conference.

“I’m very much confident that this team will give a good fight this conference,” Valdez, the league's three-time MVP, said on Friday.

Expected to carry the fight for the Cool Smashers are outside hitters Diana Mae Carlos and Jessica Margarett Galanza; middle blockers Celina Domingo, Jeanette Panaga, and Risa Sato; setters Julia Melissa de Guzman and Kyle Angela Negrito; opposite hitter Michele Gumabao; and liberos Rose Vargas and Kyla Atienza.

Myla Pablo has left Petro Gazz and moved to F2 Logistics, but the Angels' line-up remains impressive with outside hitters Grethcel Soltones, Jonah Sabete, and Nicole Tiamzon; setter Djanel Cheng; opposite hitters Aiza Pontillas and Alisa Buitre; and middle blockers Mar Jana Philips Lourdes Clemente, and Mary Remy Joy Palma.

Oliver Almadro is the new coach of Petro Gazz, which has acquired the services of outside hitter Angeline Marie Gervacio and libero Jellie Tempiatura.

“Our match against Petro Gazz is always exciting. But now, the team has a new coach (Oliver Almadro) so we will study. Just expect us and Petro Gazz to be ready," Creamline head coach Sherwin Meneses said. “All teams have prepared this off-season. Our lineup is still intact. We are ready for this conference, but other teams have recruited new players and other teams have changed systems altogether. Let's just see where we can reach this All-Filipino."

Meanwhile, Choco Mucho and Akari will square off in the first game at 4 p.m.

The Choco Mucho Flying Titans will bank on their triple tower in opposite hitter Katrina Mae Tolentino and middle blockers Madeleine Madayag and Isabel Beatriz de Leon. Supporting them are outside hitters Desiree Cheng and Isabel Molde; middle blockers Cherry Rose Nunag and Maika Ortiz; opposite Caitlin Viray; and setter Deanna Wong.

The Akari Chargers, on the other hand, have acquired opposite hitters Aleona Denise Manabat and Christine Joy Soyud to join skipper Michelle Cobb, opposite hitter Lcyha Ebon, middle blocker Princess Madrigal, outside hitters Jhoana Maraguinot and Janine Marciano, and libero Shiela Pineda. (PNA)