THE University of San Jose- Recoletos women’s volleyball squad only had one week to rest as Monday marks the start of another hectic year when their training gets underway to prepare for a national competition.

The former Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) powerhouse was invited to join the Shakey’s V-League in Manila, a month-long competition that will be held this summer.

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And after just a short holiday break, it is back on the volleyball court for them. This is the third time USJ-R was invited to the league. However, unlike the past, USJ-R and another provincial team, University of St. La Salle Bacolod, will have to go through a more strenuous process.

Last time, the two teams were given automatic quarterfinal berths. This year, they will have to work for it as they will need to compete in the elimination round against eight other squads.

USJ-R, the grand slam champs of the Cesafi, is raring to get back on top of the Cesafi ranks. It lost hold of the title in the past two seasons and getting this much-needed exposure is one way of getting closer to the team’s goal.

Not the strongest

“I admit this is not the strongest squad. I mostly have freshmen and sophomores in the squad and they badly need more exposure. Playing against strong teams from Manila will really help them improve and hopefully help us fare better in the Cesafi regular season,” said USJ-R coach Grace Antigua.

The team will be powered by Joy Bonita and Rachel Singson, the two veterans in the team. Antigua said she will get reinforcements and hopes to tap Mandaue City player and former collegiate star Joreen Sanchez and former USJ-R stalwart Michelle Simbajon.

Antigua said she wants to get Nestea Beach Volleyball National champion Ericka Verano to help out the team but Verano’s commitment hinges on whether there will be a Nestea Beach Volleyball competition this year.

No word

Usually, coaches are informed by Nestea in December, but there hasn’t been any word from the organizers until now.

Aside from the women’s team, Antigua is also trying to build up her men’s squad for the country’s premiere beach volleyball competition, where they are the defending champions.

If the Nestea beach event pushes through, Antigua said she is still unsure if they can defend their title because one of her players Ariel Carumba is graduating this March.

“I will need to hear it from him that he will commit for this.

If not, I will have to look for another partner for Loujie Tipgos,” said Antigua.