RC COLA-Army A’s Jovelyn Gonzaga and Nene Bautista found the FEU-Petron pair of Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza a tough nut to crack, escaping with a 19-21, 21-16, 15-13 victory to open their Pool D campaign on a high note in the Philippine SuperLiga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup yesterday at the Sands SM By The Bay.
With Pons doing well with her well placed shots and coupled with those sharp serves by Atienza, Gonzaga and Bautista were in trouble in the opening set.
But three consecutive points by Gonzaga allowed RC Cola-Army A to cut the deficit to 19-20 before Pons delivered the dagger in the opening frame for FEU-Petron with a kill.
Closing out better this time, five straight points capped by a well-placed shot by Bautista completed RC Cola-Army A’s breakaway from a 16-16 standoff, dragging FEU-Petron to a third set.
While Pons and Atienza looked tired in the decider, Gonzaga and Bautista had enough endurance to survive.
A Pons kill forced the game’s last deadlock at 13-13 before Bautista delivered the last two points courtesy of their 1-2 play with Gonzaga to seal the deal for RC Cola-Army.
“Thankful ako na ang communication namin in Nene (Bautista), hindi nawala. Nakapag-adjust kami at naitaas pa ang laro namin,” said Gonzaga.
F2 Logistics also served notice on its title aspirations, as Danika Gendrauli and Abi Maraño overpowered Petron Sprint 4T’s Maica Morada and Ces Molina, 21-7, 21-16 in Pool B.
“100 percent ang tiwala ko sa kanya (Maraño). May communication kami,” said Gendrauli, the Cebu native who won the inaugural edition last year with Norie Diaz.
Paired with Gendrauli for the first time, Maraño played as if they have been together for a long time.
“Gusto ko ang magawa ang best ko para kay Danika. I don’t want to disappoint her,” said Maraño.
Despite the loss, Pons and Atienza, last season’s UAAP beach volleyball runner-ups, still has something to be proud of on their PSL debut, opening their Pool D bid with a 21-14, 21-12 victory over Meralco’s Jona San Pedro and April Ross Hingpit, 21-14, 21-12, in the morning session.
“Mahirap talaga silang kalaban. Magaling talaga sila, ang ganda ng kanilang skills sa beach volleyball,” said Gonzaga on the FEU pair.
Foton’s Cherry Rondina and Patty Orendain virtually sealed a spot in the next round after posting 2-0 card in Pool C via an easy 21-3, 21-7 win over Accel Quantum Plus’ Aileen Abuel and Princess Listana and a walkover victory over Mapua’s Shaira Hermano and Niella Ramilo, who suddenly withdrew on the first day of the weekends-only tournament.
Petron XCS Aiza Maizo-Pontillas and Sheila Pineda also won two matches in Pool C, winning via default over Mapua’s Hermano and Ramilo , followed by a 21-7, 21-9 rout of Accel’s Abuel and Listana.
Standard Insurance-Navy A’s Norie Diaz and Pau Soriano also had a winning start in Pool A with a 21-18, 22-22 decision over RC Cola-Army B’s Genie Sabas and Jeannie delos Reyes.
In the morning matches, RC Cola-Army B’s Sabas and delos Reyes bested University of the East’s Angelica Dacaymat and Jasmine Alcayde, 21-18, 21-13, for a 1-1 card in Pool A, while Petron Sprint 4T’s Morada and Molina downed Standard Insurance-Navy B’s Florence Madulid and Pau Genido, 21-17, 21-14.
Meralco’s San Pedro and Hingpit rebounded on the first afternoon match with a 13-21, 21-18, 15-10 victory over Cignal’s Vhima Condada and Mary Grace Berte to raise their record to 1-1 in Pool D.
Meanwhile, men’s division is set to unwrap next week. (Theodore P. Jurado)
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Thanks to our sponsors
PSL beach volleyball challenge cup 2016 sponsors and partners: SANDS AT SM BY THE BAY (Official Venue Partner), PETRON, FOTON, ACCEL (Official Outfitter), MIKASA (Official Ball), SENOH (Official Volleyball Equipment) and ISLAND ROSE. Broadcast Partners TV5, Aksyon TV and Livestream by Sports5.ph. (Photo via SM By The Bay’s Instagram)