By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter

THE Premier Volleyball League (PVL) is ready to kick off its first professional season beginning next month.

In an announcement made at the weekend, PVL president Ricky Palou said they will kick off their first season as a professional league, with the Open Conference, on July 17 in a “bubble” setting at the Centennial Arena in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte.

It will end the long wait for the return of the popular volleyball league which turned professional late in 2020 after years of being a semi-pro league.

“We’re ready. The people who are supposed to help us are ready to get the games going; for us to enter the bubble. Television, too, is ready and just waiting for our word,” said Mr. Palou in an interview with BusinessWorld.

The PVL official went on to say that they chose to play outside of the National Capital Region (NCR) so as to avoid “possible disruption” considering how fluid the situation is with the pandemic.

Mr. Palou said they also considered Subic, Zambales, and Clark, Pampanga, as tournament venues.

“The NCR is always there but most of the venues here are being used for the pandemic like as vaccine centers. We play our matches at Filoil in San Juan but it is a vaccination area right now. And we don’t know, if we play here in Metro Manila and there is another spike in cases, we may be asked to stop the games. So to have less disruption, we chose to look outside,” he said.

“The safety of the players, organizers and all the people involved is very important for us. We want the place to be safe from this pandemic.”

For the inaugural pro season of the PVL, 11 teams are set to compete, led by powerhouse teams Creamline Cool Masters and F2 Logistics Cargo Movers.

The other competing teams in the PVL Open Conference are BaliPure Purest Water Defenders, Banko Perlas Spikers, Chery Tiggo Crossover, Choco Mucho Flying Titans, Cignal HD Spikers, Petro Gazz Angels, Philippine Army Lady Troopers, PLDT Home Fibr Hitters, and Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors.

Mr. Palou said the teams have already begun their respective bubble training sessions in different areas.

The league is currently in the process of finalizing the details, including the schedule of matches.

The PVL bubble Open Conference will run for two months, with matches to be broadcast over its new TV home Cignal TV.

The league, which was forced to cancel its season last year because of the pandemic, said despite its pro status now, its mission is still the same — develop the skills of the players further and provide opportunities for them as well as promote the sport of volleyball.