SUBIC — ABANSE Negrense squads are proving that Negros Occidental is an emerging hotbed of beach volleyball in the Philippines.
Alexa Polidario and Erjane Magdato of Abanse Negrense A and second team Jennifer Cosas and Gelimae Villanueva made waves in the opener of 2021 Gatorade-Philippine Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup on Friday.
Besides the four players from Abanse, F2 Logistics’ young spikers Jennymar Senares and Kyla Gallego, who split their first two matches in Pool A, also came all the way from Negros Occidental to enter the PSL bubble.
Volleyball Association of Negros Island, Inc. (VANI) and Abanse Negrense team manager Carmela Gamboa said that beach volleyball has been a popular sport in their province for more than 20 years.
That’s why several beach volleyball players came from the roots of Negros Occidental with the likes of Cosas, Magdato and Polidario as well as indoor star Patty Orendain and former UAAP girl's MVP Angel Canino of La Salle Zobel.
“Actually nung time namin naglalaro na rin ako matagal na may naglalarong beach volleyball mga 20 years ago or more,” said Gamboa, a former volleyball star from Bacolod. “Ang hilig hilig talaga ng mga Negrenses maglaro ng beach volleyball. Indoor man o beach volleyball man, yun talaga yung parang hobby ng athletes doon.”
“A lot of coaches are also very supportive. Marami ding leagues na ginagawa and our association, VANI, we’re also very active in organizing leagues, doing coaching and referees seminars and all those things,” she added.
True enough, Negrenses are passionate and excellent beach volleyball players.
Abanse Negrense teams pulled off back-to-back stunning victories over the powerhouse squads of Sta. Lucia to take the 2-0 lead in both pools — a win shy from clinching the two no. 1 seeds in the crossover quarterfinals.
Polidario and Magdato showed their eagerness to give Negros a great representation in the PSL that led to a sweep over Ariane Alarcon and Christina Canares of Kennedy Solar Energy-PetroGazz and Sta. Lucia B’s Bang Pineda and Jonah Sabete for the 2-0 lead in Pool A.
“I think yung tagline na City of Smiles yung (dinadala namin). Palaging nakanngiti kahit nahihirapan na,” Magdato said. “We will do our best para ma-represent yung Negros dito sa PSL.”
Cosas and Villanueva of Abanse Negrense B pulled off the most thrilling win of the bubble so far after upsetting former Challenge Cup runners-up DM Demontano and Jackie Estoquia of Sta. Lucia A with a come-from-behind 6-21, 21-14, 15-11 victory.
Cosas was glad to prove their worth to represent their team among all aspiring Negrense players after Abanse Negrense B also moved a win away from clinching the No. 1 seed in Pool B including a convincing victory over United Auctioneers, Inc.
“We feel honored kami and happy kami. Kasi maraming athletes na naglalaro ng beach volleyball sa Negros tapos kami pa yung apat na napili,” said Cosas.
Bigger challenges still await Abanse Negrense teams in this three-day Challenge Cup as they have to go through the knockout stages of the quarterfinals on Saturday and Sunday’s one-game semifinals if they will advance.
But after making waves in the opener of this special bubble tournament, Gamboa believes that they have already made the whole Negros Occidental proud.
“The province,I think right now, is very proud na may napadala kaming dalawang teams na magagaling din na mga players and they are just happy na nakasimula na din yung volleyball,” said the board member of Philippine National Volleyball Federation Inc., who is also Miss Philippines Centennial 1998.
“Gusto lang namin na magenjoy sila, do what they do best and then sana masungkit pero si Lord talaga ang magbe-bless sa kanila as long as we know na they do their best maglaro sila ng best nila para sa probinsya,” she added.
With several talented volleyball players in Negros Occidental, Gamboa said that their province has a potential to form an indoor team but for now all they want is to focus on beach volleyball, especially in these trying times.
“Well, there’s a possibility depende sa support na makukuha namin from the province sana naman. Especially kung free na lahat, makagalaw na lahat marami talagang players na gusto maglaro,” Gamboa said. “Beach volleyball muna one step at a time muna.”
“Actually we’re also looking to start little bubble leagues sa Negros kasi very supportive ang government ni Governor Bong Lacson and then the sports office ng province gusto na talaga nila magumpisa na rin yung sports kasi alam ko yung mga kids wala na talaga magawa. So sana may protocols lang na finofollow and kung i-approve din ng IATF,” she added.