AN exciting and competitive volleyball action is in store when competition in Season 82 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines unfurls beginning on Feb. 15.

Officially ushered in at a press conference on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena, all member schools expressed their readiness to get their campaigns going and make a spirited run to go deeper in the tournament.

Unlike the previous seasons, program format this year will see alternate action between men’s and women’s play.

This was arrived at to give men’s volleyball more exposure, especially coming on the heels of a successful outing by the men’s national team in the recent Southeast Asian Games where it won a silver medal.

Defending champions for the men’s are the National University Bulldogs while in the women’s are the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

“We’ve lost some key players from last season to graduation, including Bryan (Bagunas). But even before they graduated we were already preparing,” said NU men’s coach Dante Alinsunurin on the sidelines of the press conference, alluding to Season 81 most valuable player Bagunas.

“And we are ready to defend the title,” he added.

The same readiness was expressed by Ateneo women’s coach Oliver Almadro.

“We are prepared to take on the challenge as defending champions. We have stepped up our preparation and we’re hoping for an injury-free season so we can pursue our mission better especially against a competitive field,” said Mr. Almadro.

The Lady Eagles saw some veteran players graduate last year like Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag but will have returnees Jhoana Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino fortifying their roster this season.

Enhancing the competition this season is the use of the video challenge system.

It will mark the first time that the system will be implemented in the UAAP.

The league hopes that with the system in place it will make the games more engaging and efficient.

Details of the system are still being worked out, the UAAP said, but these will be made available at the soonest possible time so the teams can be oriented on them.

Also yesterday the league moved to address concerns on the 2019 novel Coronavirus (nCoV) acute respiratory disease outbreak.

League executive director Rebo Saguisag said preventive measures are in place and events will proceed as scheduled.

“It’s all systems go. Rest assured that the UAAP is committed to ensuring the safety of our student-athletes, the coaches, and the officials,” Mr. Saguisag said.

UAAP volleyball action begins at MOA Arena with the University of the Philippines, University of the East, Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas playing on opening day.