Financial issues forced the United Volleyball Club (UVC) to pull out of the Philippine Superliga (PSL) just days ahead of the All Filipino Conference opening, prompting league officials to rehash its schedule.
UVC's former players are currently scurrying to find spots on other teams. Celebrated Fil-Hawaiian spiker Kalei Mau made the biggest headlines as she immediately inked a deal with three-time champion F2 Logistics.
"Yes, just signed this morning," Mau, a 24-year-old national team prospect, told ESPN5.com in a text message on Wednesday.
Mau was among the leading local scorers during the recently concluded Grand Prix (and is seen to be a possible game-changer for the Cargo Movers who are in search of their first AFC title since 2016.
The 6'0" outside hitter joins an already formidable roster starring national team mainstays Aby Maraño, Majoy Baron, Dawn Macandili and former MVP Ara Galang. She is expected to take the starting spot vacated by skipper Cha Cruz-Behag who has taken a maternity leave from the team this season.
F2 takes on Generika-Ayala in the first encounter of opening day on Saturday. UVC was supposed to be the initial opponent of the Cargo Movers.
With all contracts now voided, UVC's former members are now officially free agents and Sta. Lucia is alleged to be close to signing former UAAP Finals MVP Amy Ahomiro despite already having submitted its 14-player roster.
The Realtors open their campaign against new squad Marinerang Pilipina in the second tiff on Saturday.
"Amy Ahomiro is not officially with us," said Team Manager Santi Edralin in a report. "We haven't signed anything because we're still in the process of ironing some kinks with her previous club. And besides, we already have a 14-woman roster, so we're still mulling our next move."
Rookie setting sensation Alohi Robins-Hardy chose not to re-sign with UVC during the season break and was acquired by Cignal HD way ahead of the escalation of the turmoil.
It was also learned that most of the remaining players will be absorbed by the Rebisco Company's new team in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) and not by the Creamline Cool Smashers.
"They most likely will be acquired by the new forming Rebisco team," Mau said. "It's not Creamline. It will be a different team just under the same sponsor. A whole separate (unit) like San Miguel in the PBA."
Fresh off its fifth place finish in the PSL GP, UVC had already been undergoing difficulties running the franchise since its original backer Cocolife decided to pull out. With most players signed to multi-conference pacts, Team Manager Josh Ylaya did what he could to sustain the operations with several friends and business relations pitching in. Ylaya even took on the role of Head Coach during the GP when the team parted ways with erstwhile mentor Moro Branislav to lessen costs.
Sources close to the team said that UVC tried to reach out to several noted sports patrons at the eleventh hour to no avail and Tuesday informed the league about its disbandment.
Ylaya could not be reached for comment on the matter.
The core of the team, which includes the likes of Justine Tiu, Marge Tejada, Shannen Palec, Jinggay Bangad and Dancel Dusaran, are PVL bound while Gyra Barroga, daughter of Cignal HD head coach and general manager Edgar Barroga, is still said to be a free agent. There are speculations that Coach Edgar is trying to get her on the HD Spikers' line-up.
Veteran libero Bang Pineda, however, is not among those who will be transferring to the PVL and is reportedly still seeking a spot on one of the PSL squads.