EIGHT games kicks off the volleyball tournament this weekend as the start of the second phase of the Baguio – Benguet Educational Athletic League formally opens at the PMA Juardo Hall on February 4.

Defending men’s volleyball titlist University of the Cordilleras open their title defense against host Philippine Military Academy in the 7:30 a.m. tiff, the first of the short BBEAL season where the nine team field is divided into two brackets.

The Jaguars seeks a second straight with its line up practically bereft of at least three top players including last year’s captain Maku Ibañez.

But Jaguars captain and setter Jong Casildo said they will be ready in this year’s bid adding the team is still intact even without last year’s top rookie Mark Decano.

Following the UC-PMA game is the Baguio Central University Eagles and the Benguet State University Wildcats match-up with Saint Louis University taking on the Kings College of the Philippines Lancer at 10:30 a.m.

Host PMA took the burden of hosting the opening games of the second most popular sport as well as augment with its men the officiating crew with most of whom will be in the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association meet.

UC center for sports development director Dr. Danilo Cong-o said it will be a difficult week as he will divide his time between the CARAA and the BBEAL.

“PMA really wants to have the game finished before the end of the month,” he said.

The women’s volleyball, which was the first event to get 11 playing team, will again have the maximum and like basketball, there will be two brackets.

Boxing will make its debut on February 4 also at the PMA gym. Four events are lined up on February 11 and 12: athletics (Baguio Athletic Bowl), lawn tennis (Baguio tennis court), softball (Benguet State University) and arnis at the PMA gym.

Boxing is expected to have four teams with UB and PMA as well as BSU and UC. (With a report from Pigeon Lobien)