Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, September 30, 2016

We're launching the PALO Volleyball League

In 2011, I launched the Ateneo Football League with my good friend, Rely San Agustin. I decided to do something different two years ago and left the AFL. Have had some plans about volleyball for a while now. This is one of them.
Patterned after the AFL, the PALO Volleyball League is a JUST FOR FUN league that will tip off this October at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. We have the women's, mens, and mixed divisions! 

I will explain what PALO stands for but you will have to ask me in person.


Stronger, taller, Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors work on team chemistry

Team manager Eric Ty, Ara Millare, and head coach Rommel Abella.

Stronger, taller, Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors work on team chemistry
by rick olivares

Pocari Sweat enters the Reinforced Conference as a favorite to romp away with its second championship in this 13th season of the Shakey’s V-League. The power cast has added two solid imports in Breanna Mackie, a six-foot-three outside hitter as well as Andrea Kacsits, a six-foot-four middle blocker.

“Sure on paper we look stronger,” says the Lady Warriors’ head coach Rommel Abella. “But we have a week, two weeks to work on our chemistry.”

Many of the Lady Warriors have day jobs and even with the early arrival of their American reinforcements a month ago, the team hasn’t had a chance to seriously train. “They have prior commitments so it was only last week that we got to train as a full team,” shared Abella.

When the Lady Warriors went to Hong Kong as a reward for coping the Open Conference, Abella asked if he could bring Mackie and Kacsits along. “Chance ito for everyone to bond,” he pointed out. “And I am happy in that regard na nakapag-bond off the court. It is on the court that we need to learn that quickly. Sayang yung time to get everyone on the training court much earlier.”

“There is always pressure to perform. Mas nadagdagan pa after the Open Conference championship. Aside from honing the skills of the girls, we have to teach them to cope and adjust to the pressure.”

Pocari opens its season-ending campaign with a re-match against Philippine Air Force on Wednesday, October 5. And Abella cannot help but be concerned. “We are up against a very good team even if they have no imports. For sure they will be doubly motivated.”

“The challenge is for my team to perform.”

Joy Cases and PAF don’t mind flying under the radar

This appears on

Joy Cases and PAF don’t mind flying under the radar
by rick olivares

Almost throughout the entire press conference to precede the opening of the Reinforced Conference of the Shakey’s V-League, all eyes, all questions were on Pocari Sweat, BaliPure, and even newly formed Bureau of Customs. Maybe if the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons were present (only team managers and some officials made it), they would have also been the beneficiary of the same.

Even new squad Philippine Coast Guard with their head coach Gilbert Odron jokingly saying as his team is the one to beat in the import-flavored conference got lots of attention.

Sitting quiet and unobtrusive were the girls, no, Airwomen First Class, of Philippine Air Force.

Joy Cases, the former star of Lyceum of the Philippines University, that bagged a bunch of WNCAA volleyball championships, doesn’t mind it one bit. “Ganun talaga,” she succinctly put with all the wisdom of a veteran. “Meron glamorosa, meron hindi.”

Cases is a freak of nature…. Not in the LeBron James mold of a towering physical specimen. She stands a mere five-feet-seven inches and is rail thin. She hardly looks the aerodynamic part. But man… she can sky and whack that volleyball like nobody’s business.

Success in the semi-pro volleyball ranks has been harder to find than during her collegiate days. Yet even then, she was playing for a small school that hardly merited any newspaper ink or online chatter. So you can say that she is used to it.

Or maybe not really.

“Motivation yan para sa akin,” she admits. “At sa team namin. Yung conference na may import ang pinaka-inaabangan na liga. Maliban sa televised, ang tingin namin ay chance muli itong para makilila ang Philippine Air Force team hindi lang sa Air Force community kasama na rin yung mga volleyball fans at sa lahat ng Pilipino.”

They nearly accomplished the impossible when they spotted Pocari Sweat a one-game lead after taking down the Lady Warriors during Game One of the Open Conference that ushered in this 13th season of the longest running semi-pro volleyball league in the country.

“Nakuha namin yung unang game pero ganun talaga hindi para sa amin,” she admitted. “Pero another chance ‘to para ilabas ang best namin. Sobrang motivation itong conference na ‘to kasi may mga import yung ibang team. Kami wala naman resources para mag-recruit. At bawal din kasi dapat naka-enlist. Chance to para i-test yung skills namin sa mga imports.”

Speaking of enlisting, Cases just signed a new three-year contract to serve in the nation’s military. When the Jet Spikers, as the PAF team is nicknamed isn’t playing, they have their military duties. During a tournament, to borrow their term, they are “detached” from their duties to concentrate on the sport.

Through sports, PAF and its brother and sister teams in other sports such as football, boxing, and track and field to name a few, use it a vehicle to create goodwill and to recruit for the military.

As for Cases, she pronounced herself happy with her career path. “Happy ako sa desisyon ko,” she smiled.

As for this tournament?

“Basta one game at a time talaga. Mahirap magsabi na ‘finals ulit’ kasi mahirap at very competitive itong tournament na ‘to.

Kate Morrell hopes the year-end is good for BaliPure and herself

Kate Morrell is third from the right.
This appears on

Kate Morrell hopes the year-end is good for BaliPure and herself
by rick olivares

Katherine Morrell has only been in the Philippines for a week and she along with fellow American Kaylee Manns have quickly blended in with their new teammates in BaliPure.

Morrell and Manns have joined the Purest Water Defenders for the season-ending Reinforced Conference of the 13th season of the Shakey’s V-League that tips off this October 1 at the Philsports Arena. They add more depth and leadership to a team that is reeling from the loss of three starters and their entire firepower – Alyssa Valdez (now with the Bureau of Customs team), Grethcel Soltones (now with the Laoag Power Smashers), and Janine Marciano (now with Cignal).

“I’m excited to be here in the Philippines even if only for a short season,” said Morrell over lunch at Cravings in Loyola Heights. The BaliPure team was in Ateneo for a meet and greet with fans. “It’s my first time here and in a week’s time it has been memorable already. Hopefully, the way we end the tournament will be even more memorable.”

The six-foot opener spiker from Nebraska just finished playing a long season in Europe when she accepted an offer to play in the Philippines.

“I have been playing in Europe the past three seasons,” related Morrell. I didn’t want to be done playing this year but I also didn’t want to play another long season. After eight months in Europe it was tiring and I got homesick. Playing abroad for long months takes me away far too long from home and family. I have older brothers who I am really close to as well as their kids. So the short season for me in the V-League is perfect.”

Playing international volleyball wasn’t something that she expected to be engaged in after her college career with the University of Alabama-Birmingham but it has been a life changer. “There are so many things that I have been exposed to since I went abroad. It’s great to experience other cultures, meet people and make new friends, and play volleyball. I get to pursue my passion, earn some money, and see the world. I’ll say this though, it has certainly broadened my mind. There are so many things I can apply to my life and work. For example, I was a very impatient person. But when you go abroad, you learn to be tolerant and accepting because things are just different. Like the traffic in Manila…. it is an exercise in patience.”

“But I love it here,” added Morrell. “The Filipino people are so sincerely nice. Everyone I have come into contact with says, ‘hi.’ Coming through the airport and people are saying hi and offering to help you with your bags. The island life is something I can appreciate and enjoy.”

However, more than the sightseeing, Morrell is here to help BaliPure try to win some honors in the SVL’s final tournament for the season. Kaylee and I are very vocal and we hope to motivate the team,” she said. “We love our team and it’s just a matter of time before we find our chemistry.”

Morrell sees herself playing the game anywhere from two to five years down the road. “As long as I am healthy and people want me to play for them,” she explained.

She is on the other hand beginning her transition to a second career. Morrell has opened Texas One Academy, a volleyball school in Houston, Texas. “I’d love to stay with the game that has been very good to me. I’d like to play some more. I am transitioning into coaching but I am not yet done. I don’t want it to end too soon.”

In closing, Morrell shared, “When I get back home to the US, I also want to share with others that there are many opportunities out there for you. You just have to find them and pursue them. And it’s great. Now, if we can lead BaliPure to a championship, that would be smashing.”