To give the competing teams more time to prepare, the Premier Volleyball League has moved back the Open Conference launch to March 16 with nine teams seeing action.
Originally slated to kick off its second pro season on Feb. 16, the organizing Sports Vision has decided to move the opening a month later to give the teams at least one-and-a-half months of training to reach competitive level coming off a long break.
“We asked the member teams to give us their inputs and their concerns. After putting all it all together, we decided that the best thing to do for us at this point in time is to move the opening to mid-March,” said Sports Vision and PVL president Ricky Palou. “But we have to shorten our conference to make way for the training of the national team,” Palou added.
Thus, from a previous three-month schedule, the first of the three conferences lined up this year will now be a four-week tournament ending on April 9.
With a short window, the format of the tournament will have a pool play set-up – a first for the league.
The reset also concurs with the Philippine Women’s National Federation’s schedule to bring the national team to a camp in Brazil as part of its buildup for the SEA Games slated May 12-23 in Hanoi, Vietnam
Under the new format, the nine member teams, including defending Open Conference champion Chery Tiggo, runner-up Creamline, third placer Petro Gazz, Choco Mucho, Philippine Army, PLDT Home Fibr, BaliPure, Cignal, and PNVF Champions League champion F2 Logistics, will be divided into two pools with one side having five teams.
The top four teams in each pool will advance to the knockout quarterfinals with no team from the pool of four being eliminated. The first and second-ranked teams in each pool will have twice-to-beat advantages.
In case of a tie in the number of victories, the tiebreaker will be the points gained after each match – three points for a three- or four-set win; two points for the winner and one point for the loser of a five-setter; and zero points for either a three-set, four-set, or forfeit defeat.
If the points still end up in a tie, the set quotient, the point quotient, heads-up matchup for the whole preliminary round, then the set quotient and the point quotient among the teams involved, in that order, will follow as tiebreakers.
The PVL, meanwhile, is looking at three venues to host the tournament.
A full bubble set up at either the Aquamarine Sports Complex in Lipa, Batangas or Tagaytay Royale in Alfonso, Cavite are being considered in case the league is required to hold such for health and safety measures.
However, if the situation clears up in Manila, the Open Conference will be held in the metropolis under a closed-circuit setup.
“We are also looking at the possibility of holding it here in Metro Manila depending on the situation,” said Palou. “By mid-February, we will know what our alert level will be.”
Teams are already seeking clearance from their respective local government units for permission to train. The Games and Amusements Board and the Inter-Agency Task Force must also approve each team’s health and safety protocols to begin training.