THE favorites look to bounce back after suffering early upsets as the Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2015 enters its second day of competition on Saturday at the Sands By the Bay in SM Mall of Asia.
Pre-tournament favorites Michelle Laborte and Cha Cruz of Cignal HD Spikers A tumbled when they suffered a straight-set loss to the hungrier, more aggressive tandem of Danica Gendrauli and Norie Diaz of Gilligan's.
The duo of Alexa Micek and Fille Cayetano of Sprint 4T fell to a more prepared team of Bea Tan and Pau Soriano of Foton Hurricane, while crowd darlings Charo Soriano and Gretchen Ho of Petron XCS were beaten in straight sets by April Ross Hingpit and Wensh Tiu of Cignal HD Spikers.
PSL president Ramon "Tats" Suzara said the opening-day results show the depth and competitiveness of the field.
"It goes to show how balanced and competitive this tournament is," said Suzara. "This is a kill-or-be killed tournament with only the toughest team set to survive. This is not designed to be a walk-in-the park for the heavyweight teams."
A bronze medalist in the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila, Laborte is heavily tipped to dominate the field after being partnered with another skilled spiker in Cruz. But things didn't go according to plan as Gendrauli, a beach volleyball sensation for Southwestern University in the Cebu collegiate league, and Diaz had a strong start and an even stronger finish.
The same thing happened to Micek and Cayetano of reigning PSL All-Filipino Conference champion Petron.
"Errors, erros and more errors, that's the story of the game," said Micek, a Filipino-American stunnner who drew the largest cheers from the large weekend crowd.
"But this is still far from over. We can still redeem ourselves. We will train hard and come back stronger next game."
While Cignal HD Spikers B of Hingpit and Tiu are already safely in the quarterfinals after demolishing Aurora Tripoli and Rochet Dela Paz of Accel Quantum Plus B Perpetual Molino, Cignal HD Spikers A can still book a ticket to the next round if they prevail over Petron Sprint 4T and Foton Hurricane.
Micek and Cayetano must beat Gilligan's while Soriano and Ho must overcome Accel Quantum Plus B Perpetual Molino in a separate encounter to remain in the hunt for the title in the tournament backed by PLDT Home Ultera-Philippine, Smart, Accel, Sands By the Bay and Maynilad, and organized by Sports Core.