PERPETUAL Help bucked the unpredictable weather in this tourism and commercial hub on Sunday as it trounced Mapua, 21-5, 21-5, to start its title defense in the women’s division of the NCAA beach volleyball championships in Subic Bay on a high note.
Despite the on-and-off winds and rains bothering them, the duo of reigning MVP April Anne Sartin and Norie Jane Diaz made short work of the Lady Cardinals as they finished off their opponents in just 17 minutes on court 3 at the Boardwalk of the Subic Bay Free Port Zone.
The Lady Altas also had to deal with the wet and sticky surface caused by the rains, but that didn’t seem to matter as the three-time defending champions banked on a near-flawless service game to outclass the tandem of Alissa Magallanes and Mary Ann Santos.
“Nag-adjust kami sa putik at hangin,” said the 22-year-old Sartin, who played under such delicate condition for the first time ever. “Pinag-aralan talaga namin ang service kasi mas mataas ang porseynto maka-score doon sa ganitong panahon.”
The 19-year-old Diaz expects San Beda, bannered by Coline Malana and Janine Marciano, and College of St. Benilde, featuring the duo of Rossan Fajardo and Cindy Valencia, to give them a run for their money in this five-day tournament hosted by Jose Rizal University under athletics director Paul Supan.
“Beda kasi matagal na `yung tandem nila at Benilde kasi magaling `yung pinalit na partner ni Fajardo,” admitted Diaz, who has been teaming up with Sartin for four years now. Both are HRM students at the Las Piñas-based school.
In another highly-anticipated match, Marinelle Carolino and Sarah Jane Espelita powered last year’s runner up Letran past the Lyceum duo of Gian Carla Benedicto and Verlyn Bernal, 21-19, 21-16.
Meanwhile, Arvien Antiquera and Jophius Banang of Arellano University, the three-peat-seeking men’s champions, clipped Jose Rizal University’s Ian Callejo and Joshua Manzanas, 21-15, 21-13, to similarly set their title-retention bid in motion.
In juniors’ division, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Brigadiers squad of Jovet Movido and Toshihiro Wada scored a 21-8, 21-11 win over Vicente Mercado and Rudolfo Sales of the JRU Light Bombers.
Perpetual Help men’s counterparts also barged into the win column as Jay dela Cruz and Sandy Montero turned back Mack Bacolod and Juvie Mangaring of Emilio Aguinaldo College, 21-18, 24-22.
All teams will play a single-round robin, with the top four teams advancing before the two survivors compete in the Finals set on Sept. 2.
The staging of the event in Subic is the second milestone for the NCAA this season after the country’s oldest sports collegiate league brought two men’s basketball games in Sta. Cruz, Laguna last month.