Bernadeth Pons and Cherry Rondina, two of the country’s best sand court women’s players, will be at the opposite sides once more as Far Eastern University and defending champion University of Santo Tomas dispute the outright Finals berth in the UAAP Season 80 beach volleyball tournament at the Sands SM By The Bay.
Both sporting identical 6-0 slates, the Lady Tamaraws and the Tigresses will dispute the outright slot in the best-of-three championship at 3 p.m. The loser will drop at No. 2 and will hold the twice-to-beat bonus in the step-ladder semifinals.
Pons and Rondina were club teammates in the offseason and played together for the Philippines in last month’s Southeast Asian Games beach volleyball tournament.
“Si Rondina, hindi basta-basta magpapatalo. Kahit sinasabi na bago ang partner niya, kaya niyang dalhin iyon,” said Pons, who has been with the FEU beach volley team right from the start.
“Kami, may advantage kami sa kanila kasi matagal na kaming magkasama ni Kyla (Atienza) sa beach volley. So iyon ang advantage namin na kailangang maipakita namin sa Thursday. Hindi madaling laban iyon, kasi dikdikan iyon. Gagawin namin yung part namin. Gagawin namin ang best namin,” she added.
Rondina, a two-time MVP, has Caitlyn Viray as her partner this year for UST.
De La Salle’s Tin Tiamzon and May Luna (3-3) and Ateneo’s Bea de Leon and Jules Samonte (2-4) collide at 3:30 p.m., with the Lady Spikers gunning for the last semis berth. A win by the Lady Eagles will force a playoff against their fierce rivals for the No. 4 slot in the step-ladder semifinals.
Also in the semis is the pair of Diana Carlos and Ayel Estrañero of University of the Philippines, which is making its first appearance since 2012 when Aia del Mundo and Pau Genido finished fourth.
In the men’s division, the Bulldogs’ Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad are a win away of gaining an outright passage to the best-of-three Finals.
Unbeaten in six contests NU will go for the championship slot against UP at 5:30 p.m.
Titleholder UST and FEU are in joint second with 5-1 record. The Growling Tigers and the Tamaraws clash for the No. 2 ranking in the semifinals at 5 p.m.