ZAMBALES -- University of Perpetual Help survived its toughest test yet in the NCAA beach volleyball championships, holding off San Sebastian, 21-19, 20-22, 15-8, on Monday as the tournament is finally blessed with fine weather at the Boardwalk of the Subic Bay Free Port Zone.
After cruising past their opponents in their first three games, the three-time defending titlists, bannered by April Anne Sartin and Norine Jane Diaz, finally found their match as the SSC spikers proved to be a tough nut to crack.
The Lady Altas posted easy victories against Mapua, 21-5, 21-5, and Lyceum, 21-10, 21-10, on opening day, and against Emilio Aguinaldo College, 21-17, 21-11, on Monday morning.
After surrendering the first set by just two points, the SSC duo of Czarina Barbano and Gretchel Soltones turned it up a notch in the second as the Lady Altas dropped their first set of the competition.
Sartin, the reigning MVP, and Diaz, though, held on to remain unscathed four games into this inaugural out-of-town tournament.
Despite the loss—their first in four games—the SSC volleybelles’ performance against the Lady Altas proved to be a confidence-booster.
“Target pa lang namin Final Four pero tumaas confidence namin after nung game,” said the 18-year-old Barbano, whose squad finished fifth in last year’s edition. The team is currently in third place.
San Sebastian defeated San Beda, 22-20, 21-14, Letran, 21-17, 21-18, and Lyceum, 21-17, 21-9, in their first three games.
College of St. Benilde is running second with a perfect 3-0 win-loss slate, followed by San Sebastian. Letran, last year’s runner-up, is tied with Arellano on 2-1 cards. San Beda and Mapua are both 1-2 while Lyceum and Jose Rizal University remain winless in three starts.
The men’s division race is a four-team race.
Defending champion Arellano has an immaculate 2-0 record like the Perpetual Altas, SSC Stags, and CSB Blazers. The Letran Knights and the Lyceum Pirates are tied with an even 1-1 card, while the JRU Bombers, EAC Generals, SBC Lions, and the Mapua Cardinals have yet to win.
The Chiefs turned back the Bombers, 21-15, 21-13, and the Generals, 21-13, 10-21, 15-10, in their two outings.