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Collegiate stalwarts and fresh faces unveiled in PSL Invitational official lineups

The 2018 Chooks-To-Go Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference officially kicked off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the league has released the official rosters of the 10 competing teams in this year's edition with all squads having a more than decent shot at the crown with notable veterans, collegiate standouts and a wave of new talent making this perhaps the most interesting offering of the season yet.

Let's get right into all the lineups.

Cignal HD (Reigning Champions)

Defending champions Cignal HD has almost the same group of volleybelles from the recently concluded PSL Grand Prix with only one notable inclusion in former University of San Jose Recoletos star and national team member Rapril Aguilar added.

Aguilar, who saw action for the HD Spikers in last month's PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup, takes up the back-up opposite hitter's role behind another returning veteran in Mylene Paat. Nicknamed "Rap-Rap" the 5'10" power hitter returns to her original PSL team and is also joined by Lyceum middle blocker Christine Miralles in the line-up. They'll need all the firepower they can muster in the absence of reigning MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga and reserve spiker Janine Marciano-both still out with knee injuries.

  • 1 Janine Navarro

  • 2 Ria Sante

  • 3 Jheck Dionela (L)

  • 4 Christine Miralles

  • 7 Mylene Paat

  • 8 Menchie Tubiera

  • 10 Acy Masangkay

  • 11 Mumay Vivas

  • 12 Cindy Amutan (L)

  • 13 Rachel Anne Daquis

  • 14 May Macatuno

  • 15 Rapril Aguilar

  • 16 Shirley Salamagos

  • Head Coach/GM: Edgar Barroga

Cocolife Asset Managers

With only six players remaining from their Grand Prix line-up, coach Moro Branislav now has to turn a page after losing all his Philippine Army when the whole group transferred to Smart. But the newcomers to Cocolife also carry with them an impressive rap sheet.

Mika Esperanza is back after missing an entire season due to injury and the former F2 Logistics playmaker will be reunited with her college teammates from De La Salle University (DLSU) in Alex Tan, Justine Tiu and rookie Gyra Barroga (daughter of Cignal Head Coach Edgar). The Asset Managers did get a remnant of the original Gigahitters as Letran center Rainne Fabay now joins the team. Other new faces are Patria Peña of Mapua, UST setter Ces Bangad (who played for Smart in the beach tournament), and the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) pair of Yvette Tongco and Iona Yongco (Iumi's younger sister).

Former league MVP Tina Salak did not join the Lady Troopers who transferred to Smart, but remains on the team as part of the coaching staff.

  • 1 Mika Esperanza

  • 3 Yvette Tongco

  • 4 Aerieal Patnongon

  • 5 Iona Yongco

  • 6 Patria Peña

  • 7 Alex Tan

  • 9 Gyra Barroga

  • 10 Marge Tejada

  • 11 Rainne Fabay

  • 12 Dancel Dusaran (L)

  • 13 Den-Den Lazaro (L)

  • 14 Justine Tiu

  • 16 Jinggay Bangad

  • 17 Erika Alkuino

  • Head Coach: Moro Branislav

F2 Logistics Cargo Movers

The Cargo Movers boast of having six members of the national team (which will also be participating in the tournament as a guest team) but all eyes will be on sophomore DLSU setter Michelle Cobb as she is seen to split minutes with maestro Kim Fajardo in the playmaking chores for F2. The return of Kim Kianna Dy and "Miss Everywhere" Dawn Macandili brings that needed all-around shot in the arm for Head Coach Ramil de Jesus as the Cargo Movers look to move on from an unsuccessful title defense in the Grand Prix.

Des Cheng also makes her return to an already stacked F2 line-up.

  • 2 Aby Maraño

  • 4 Norielle Ipac

  • 5 Dawn Macandili (L)

  • 6 Ara Galang

  • 7 Tin Tiamzon

  • 8 Fritz Joy Gallenero

  • 9 Kim Fajardo

  • 10 Majoy Baron

  • 11 Cha Cruz-Behag

  • 13 Aduke Ogunsanya

  • 15 Kim Kianna Dy

  • 16 Michelle Cobb

  • 18 Michelle Morente

  • 19 Des Cheng

  • Head Coach: Ramil de Jesus

Foton Tornadoes

Many consider Foton as the team to beat with the insertion of former Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) middle blocker Bea de Leon to fortify the already long frontline starring Maika Ortiz, Jaja Santiago and Din-Din Santiago-Manabat. The Tornadoes also pull a major acquisition by signing former University of the East superstar and former U23 member Shaya Adorador to add more offensive options for Head Coach Rommel Abella.

But perhaps the most interesting addition are the Viray twins from San Beda, Ela and Iza; fresh off their debut in the beach tournament. The Viray twins add flexibility in the floor defense aspect for Foton and they will have so many combinations to choose from in their quest for a title.

  • 1 Iumi Yongco

  • 2 Gyzelle Sy

  • 3 Jaja Santiago

  • 4 Mina Aganon

  • 5 Ela Viray (L)

  • 6 Iza Viray

  • 9 Ivy Perez

  • 10 Maika Ortiz

  • 11 Shaya Adorador

  • 12 Jen Reyes (L)

  • 14 Bea de Leon

  • 16 Din-Din Santiago-Manabat

  • 17 CJ Rosario

  • Head Coach: Rommel Abella

Generika-Ayala Lifesavers

Several notable additions can be considered in the Lifesavers' attempt to move forward this conference as Head Coach Sherwin Meneses brings in two stalwarts from the University of the East (UE) program in feisty libero Kath Arado and back-up orchestrator Laizah Bendong. The setter rotation is touted to be crowded with the recruitment of former Lady Eagle reserve Jamie Lavitoria as well; giving starter April Ross Hingpit more pressure to perform at a higher level.

Former libero Bang Pineda now reprises her role as a spiker as Generika-Ayala also brings in former National University (NU) ace Bia General into its fold and this mix of talent have some aficionados seeing the Lifesavers go deep this conference.

  • 2 April Ross Hingpit

  • 4 Carol Cerveza

  • 5 Patty Orendain

  • 6 Kath Arado (L)

  • 7 Bang Pineda

  • 8 Angeli Araneta

  • 9 Bia General (L)

  • 10 Laizah Bendong

  • 11 Sheeka Espinosa

  • 12 Mika Lopez

  • 14 Marlyn Llagoso

  • 16 Jamie Lavitoria

  • 17 Fiola Ceballos

  • 18 Ria Meneses

  • Head Coach: Sherwin Meneses

Petron Blaze Spikers

The recently crowned queens of the Grand Prix now go on their quest for back-to-back titles in a roster boosted by the return of reigning beach volleyball champions Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons. The duo skipped the Grand Prix due to their collegiate responsibilities but if their showing on the sand is any indication, they have not skipped a beat at all.

Former Far Eastern University (FEU) floor patroller Budinig Duremdes also makes her debut and the Blaze Spikers (which have three national team members plus its head coach) may have the right components in making a serious title run once again.

  • 2 Bernadeth Pons

  • 3 Mika Reyes

  • 5 Buding Duremdes (L)

  • 7 Ces Molina

  • 8 Aiza Maizo-Pontillas

  • 9 Rem Palma

  • 10 Pia Gaiser (L)

  • 12 Rhea Dimaculangan

  • 14 Chloe Cortez

  • 15 Angel Legacion

  • 16 Sisi Rondina

  • 17 Mela Tunay

  • 20 Ivana Agudo

  • Head Coach: Shaq de los Santos

Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors

One of the busiest teams with regards to player acquisitions during the short break between conferences as Head Coach George Pascua has gone to the Lady Tamaraws to bring in power hitter Chin-Chin Basas, all-around wonder Jeanette Villareal and pintsized package Carly Hernandez into the Lady Realtors already potent line-up.

Former UE pagoda Roselle Baliton, however, is keen on making an impact as this 6'1" setter will be in an unpredictable rotation with national team pool member Rebecca Rivera (touted to start this conference) and veteran Rubie de Leon.

But perhaps the biggest inclusion comes in the form of national U23 attacker Jho Maraguinot as her offensive prowess will be utilized to the hilt by Sta. Lucia; pairing her up with hard-hitting MJ Phillips and skipper Pam Lastimosa.

Sta. Lucia's silver medal beach volleyball tandem of Jackie Estoquia and DM Demontaño are now in the indoor realm as the team's liberos and that brings a lot to the forefront for the squad's defenses.

The Lady Realtors are seen to be the dark horse of the tournament.

  • 1 Jona Sabete

  • 3 Jeanette Villareal

  • 4 Rebecca Rivera

  • 5 Roselle Baliton

  • 6 Carly Hernandez

  • 7 Mic-Mic Laborte

  • 9 Jackie Estoquia (L)

  • 10 Chin-Chin Basas

  • 12 Rubie de Leon

  • 13 MJ Phillips

  • 15 Jho Maraguinot

  • 16 Souzan Raslan

  • 17 DM Demontaño

  • 18 Pam Lastimosa

  • Head Coach: George Pascua

Smart-Army Gigahitters

The team other than Sta. Lucia that made a huge roster change during the offseason brings back together the core of the three-time PSL titlists Philippine Army with team captain Ging Balse-Pabayo, Joanne Bunag, Sarah Jane Gonzales and Nene Bautista transferring from Smart during the break. The trio will not only be reunited with former Lady Troopers teammates Jem Gutierrez, Angela Nunag and holdovers Genie Sabas and libero Tin Agno but also with Head Coach Kung Fu Reyes who also brings in five budding youngsters from the UST varisty.

This mix of grizzled warriors and hungry young blood may be the key ingredient to initially breaking into the win column after a dismal Grand Prix and also contending for a coveted playoff berth for the first time in franchise history.

  • 1 Tin Agno (L)

  • 2 Tin Francisco

  • 3 Joanne Bunag

  • 4 Caitlyn Viray

  • 5 Ging Balse-Pabayo

  • 6 Jem Gutierrez

  • 7 Alina Bicar

  • 8 Sarah Jane Gonzales

  • 10 Angela Nunag (L)

  • 11 Dim-Dim Pacres

  • 12 Genie Sabas

  • 14 Nene Bautista

  • 16 Lut Malaluan

  • 19 Mildred Dizon

  • Head Coach: Emilio "Kung Fu" Reyes, Jr.

Here are the players of the two guest teams that will use this tournament to prepare for their upcoming UAAP campaign.

Cherrylume-University of the East Iron Lady Warriors

  • 1 Judith Abil

  • 2 Larah Maye Clavano

  • 3 Mariella Gabarda

  • 4 Mary Ann Mendrez

  • 6 Juliet Cantindig

  • 7 Seth Rodriguez

  • 8 Zilfa Geline Olarve

  • 9 Jana Sta. Maria

  • 10 Chelho Ramos

  • 12 Remcel Joyce Santos

  • 15 Jasime Alcayde

  • 16 Erika Lopez

  • 19 Jaskin Babol (L)

  • 20 Brydie Pastorfide (L)

  • Head Coach: Rod Roque

United Auctioneers-University of the Philippines Lady Maroons

  • 2 Lorelyn Bernardo

  • 3 Maris Layug

  • 4 Remelyn Altomea (L)

  • 5 Nicole Magsarile

  • 8 Andrea Lagman

  • 9 Jessma Ramos

  • 10 Isa Molde

  • 11 Marian Buitre

  • 12 Abilaine Goc

  • 13 Justine Dorog (L)

  • 14 Ayesha Ganaban

  • 16 Rose Mary Cailing

  • 17 Ayel Estrañero

  • 19 Roselyn Rosier

  • Head Coach: Godfrey Okumu

It is important to note that for the Lady Maroons, Tots Carlos will be sidelined for the entire conference due to a stress fracture on her right shin. Another volleybelle on the mend is Sta. Lucia's Chin-Chin Basas who is recovering from an operation on her ear, but will see action in the middle part of the tourney.

Can Cignal repeat as champions? Will Smart finally get a victory? Did the Lady Realtors pull off the right moves to get stronger? Will F2 Logistics own the competition with their deep line-up? Will Petron go two in a row? Will Generika-Ayala finally get over the proverbial hump? Is the Cocolife rebuild going to bear fruit this early? Will Foton live up to its billing as the pre-tournament favorite? Or will the collegiate guests score upsets?

Catch all the action from the 2018 Chooks To Go PSL Invitational right here on ESPN5!