THE Pangasinan duo of Jennifer Manzano and new partner Cindy Benitez tamed the breezy winds blowing towards Lingayen Gulf in claiming the2012 Petron Ladies’ Beach Volleyball Battle of Champions crown Friday.
Low-angled shots across the net did the trick for the 24-year-old Manzano and Benitez, who wasted no time disposing of Rizal Technological University standouts Jessa Aranda and rookie Jonafer San Pedro, 21-8, 21-9, in the finals at the provincial capitol beachfront grounds.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya huwag taasan ang bola. Mahangin, kaya mababa lang,” said Manzano, who earned her sixth title in the Petron volleyball series. She took the second-leg crown with Benitez last May.
Manzano fired three aces to jumpstart Pangasinan-1 to a 5-1 lead in the first set, before her drop shots with Benitez allowed them to move out of range, 10-3.
A couple of aces from Benitez, a former University of the Cordilleras (UC) Lady Jaguars standout now working for the Benguet Electric Cooperative, then saw Pangasinan-1 dominating the game, 15-5.
Adjusting better to the late-morning winds in the second set, Manzano and Benitez had little trouble gathering steam with their 7-2 advantage.
Momentum was now on their side when the home team moved away for good, 14-7, en route to the title triumph.
Manzano, a graduate of La Salle-Dasmarinas and now assistant coach of the women’s varsity team, and Benitez made it to the finals after they got past the other Pangasinan team of Melanie Carrera and Cassandra Lleda in the semifinals, 21-14, 21-11.
Aranda and San Pedro advanced to the final after beating last year’s Battle of Champions winner Francislyn Cais and new teammate Kryssel Cueva of University of the East, 17-21, 21-16, 15-9 in the other semifinal.
Manzano and Benitez will represent the country in the 2013 World Universiade in Kazan, Russia in July.