STA. ANA, Cagayan -- This time around, former La Salle-Dasmarinas bet Iari Yongco finally got her chance to win a crown.
Yongco and teammate Judy Ann Caballejo weathered the moderate winds blowing from across the Babuyan Channel to beat fellow Philippine Air Force teammates Ana Abanto and Gena Andaya, 21-15, 21-15, and claim the first leg of the 2014 Petron Ladies' Beach Volleyball Tournament at the powdery sands of Anguib Beach here over the weekend.
The 5-foot-11 Yongco scored two crucial points in the second set, with her drop shots and service allowing Philippine Air Force to gain some distance, 8-6.
A series of smashes by Caballejo and Yongco later allowed them to stretch their advantage to four, 11-7. Then, Yongco’s attacks from the net eventually enabled PAF-1 team to nurse a seven-point spread, 17-10, en route to the second-set win.
“Diskarte `yung drop ball. Kasi, kapag malapit sa net, mahirap ibalik sa kabila ang bola. Kaya nag-drop shots para sure ball,” said Yongco, who made the finals during the third leg last year with Mariel Desengano.
The Air Force-1 pair, coached by Clarence Esteban, advanced to the semis following a four-game sweep of their elimination-round games in this spikefest supported by Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, the provincial government of Cagayan, and Mikasa balls.
In the semis, Yongco and Caballejo got past Rizal Technological University-2’s Priscilla Catacutan and Jessa Aranda, 21-8, 21-12, to make it to the best-of-three finals.
Abanto and Andaya earlier topped Group B with a 3-1 record, highlighted by the win over Letran’s Monique Joy Pablo and Ethel Evangelista, 21-15. Then they stunned Cagayan Valley-2’s Paulina Soriano and Leuseth Dawis, 21-10, 21-15, in the semis to arrange a championship clash with Yongco and Caballejo.