FORMER UAAP rivals Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons kick off their title-retention bid in the Philippine Super Liga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup at Sands by the Bay on Wednesday.
Rondina, a star for University of Santo Tomas, and former Far Eastern University spearhead Pons are favored to rule the 12-team, four-day tournament while carrying the colors of Petron XCS.
Rondina and Pons were grouped in Pool A with Cocolife Team A composed of beach volleyball veterans Danika Gendrauli and Nene Bautista, and last year’s runners-up Fiola Ceballos and Patty Oredain of Generika-Ayala Team A.
“After naman ng UAAP nag-start na kami nag-training kasi nga naghahabol kami kasi kaunti lang ang time na mag-ensayo. So everyday pinaghahandaan talaga namin ang mga makakalaban namin,” said Pons.
“Kasi most of the teams ngayon, ‘yung mga players, naglalaro na talaga ng beach volleyball since college so competitive talaga lahat ng teams. Kailangan paghandaan namin mentally and physically,” she added.
Bang Pinada and Sheeka Espinosa of Generika-Ayala Team B, Mylene Paat and Rap-Rap Aguilar of Cignal Team A and Dhannylaine Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia of Sta. Lucia Team A make up Pool B.
Cignal duo Cherry May Vivas and Jannine Navarro, Ma. Cecilla Bangad and Caitlyn Viray of Smart and PSL first timers Nieza and Jeziela Viray of Foton will battle it out in Pool C.
Pool D is composed of Fritz Gallenero and Mich Morente from F2 Logistcs, Marge Tejada and Alexandra Tan from Cocolife Team B and Jonah Sabete and Bianca Lizares from Sta. Lucia Team B.
“Lahat ng teams competitive so lahat talaga matibay kasi lahat naman nagpeprepare for this league,” said Pons.
Top two teams from each pool after the preliminary round on Wednesday and Thursday will advance to the quarterfinals, which will be played on Saturday.
In the men’s division, Josh Ylaya and JP Pareja of Cocolife, Ian Lester Yee and Romnick Rico of UST, Kris Roy Guzman and Lemuel Arbasto of Foton and Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad of Sands by the Bay will be in Pool A.
Alsali Pajiji and Milover Parcon of Navy, Philip Michael Bagalay and Gregory Utupo of Smart, Mika Abria and Jessie Lopez of Cignal and Joven Camaganakan and Joseph Tipay of Team Volleyball Manila compose Pool B.
Meanwhile, Aby Maraño, Jheck Dionela, Mich del Carmen, Will Devaugn, Amanda Fernandez and Abby Poblador will play in the celebrity match.