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PLDT Power Hitters continue to fortify roster

PLDT Home Fibr is preparing for a competitive run in the 2021 volleyball season, picking up a number of players who it hopes can help it in its campaign, particularly in its homecoming in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

The Power Hitters over the weekend shared that it has acquired the services of Eli Soyud, Chin Basas, Yeye Gabarda, Nieza Viray, Isa Molde, Marist Layug, and Rhea Dimaculangan.

The player pickups come at a time when PLDT is reportedly gearing up to make its way back to the now-professional league PVL after spending time at the Philippine Superliga (PSL).

Organizers of the PVL said the Power Hitters, along with the Cignal team, are to formalize their entry in the league this week.

PLDT used to play in the PVL’s predecessor the Shakey’s V-League.

“The experience of the players we are getting will go a long way. They will be of big help. Hopefully, the exposure from the other teams they played for they get to bring to our team. I’m excited to coach them,” said PLDT coach Roger Gorayeb in Filipino as he talked about the significance of bring the new players in.

Said players joined holdovers Shola Alvarez, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, Joyce Sta. Rita, Vira Guillema, Kath Villegas, and Alyssa Eroa in the PLDT fold.

Mses. Soyud and Basas are a pair of opposite hitters who made a name for themselves in the UAAP. Ms. Soyud, 25, played for Motolite in 2019 before transferring to Generika-Ayala in 2020 while Ms. Basas, 24, played for Petron previously.  

Mr. Gabarda, 22, is a 5-foot-10 blocker from UE.

Ms. Viray, 21, for her part, previously played for Foton in 2018 and Chef’s Classics in 2019.

University of the Philippines stalwarts Molde and Layug, both 22, are in their final semesters as students in UP and have foregone their eligibility in the UAAP.

Ms. Molde was part of the UP team, which won the 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference, where she was also named conference and finals most valuable player. She also played for Foton and Motolite.

Ms. Layug, meanwhile, has been on the radar of Mr. Gorayeb for a long time, even trying to recruit the player when he was coached of National University in the UAAP.

Veteran setter Dimaculangan is expected to provide experience and leadership to the team. A product of the University of Santo Tomas, she was a three-time PSL Best Setter and was hailed as the 2018 PSL All-Filipino Conference most valuable player. She played for Foton, Petron, and Generika-Ayala.

The Power Hitters last saw action at the 2020 PSL Grand Prix, where it sported a 0-3 record before the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The PVL, which recently signed a three-year broadcast deal with Cignal TV, is looking to stage its first tournament as a pro league in May in a “bubble” setup at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Laguna. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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