IT’S going to be an intense and battle as two of the best beach volleyball players from the Visayas battle on Saturday in the finals of the PLDT Home Ultera Philippine Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup 2015 powered by Smart Live More at the Sands By the Bay in SM Mall of Asia.
The pride of Iloilo, Fiola Ceballos of Foton Tornadoes, will renew her rivalry with Cebu's best in Danika Gendrauli of Gilligan's in the gold-medal match.
A 20-year old Tourism senior from Central Philippine University, Ceballos is regarded as one of the best young beach volleyball players. In fact, just few weeks ago, she stole the thunder from a powerhouse field as she emerged as the country's first Queen of the Sands.
Then, she partnered with Patty Jane Orendain of Bacolod to tow the Tornadoes to a pair of victories in the classification round before demolishing their sister team — Foton Hurricane — in the semifinals.
Gendrauli, a 24-year old ace from Southwestern University, vowed to go all out not only to win the crown but also to avenge a pair of setbacks at the hands of Ceballos and her erstwhile partner, national team skipper Jovelyn Gonzaga, in a commercial beach volley tournament in the island of Boracay in 2012 and 2013.
"Sa regional tinalo namin sila, pero sa championship, talo kami sa kanila," said Gendrauli.
"Added motivation ’ yun on my part. That's why we're training hard para mas maging maganda performance namin sa Sabado."
Ceballos stressed that winning over Gendrauli was a different story that happened in a different time.
Gendrauli, she said, had improved tremendously and her partnership with the defense-savvy Norie Jane Diaz makes her one of the most lethal players in this four-week tournament organized by Sports Core with Accel as official outfitter, Senoh as technical sponsor, Sands By the Bay as venue partner and Maynilad as official water provider. The finals matches will be aired live over TV 5
"Hindi ka man n’ya talunin sa lakas ng palo, pero tatalunin ka naman n’ya sa utak at diskarte," said Ceballos, referring to Gendrauli who shone for Mane 'N Tail in the recent PSL All-Filipino Conference.
"Beteranong-beterano na po ang laro at diskarte ni Danica. Alam n’ya kung saan pababagsakin ang bola mapa-short ball man o long ball. Kaya dapat paghandaan namin sya kasi sobrang galing nya sa placing at drop shots."
In the end, however, it will be an exciting showdown of will, desire, hunger and pride between two of the smartest and skilled beach volley players from the South.
"Kung sino ang mas uhaw, kung sino ang mas may gusto, sya ang mananalo," Ceballos said. "Basta gagawin namin lahat at mage-ensayo kaming mabuti. We'll treat it like an ordinary game. Laro lang po talaga, walang personalan."
Battling for the men's title are Hachaliah Gilbuena and Jade Becaldo of SM By the Bay A and Tippy Tipgos and Marjun Alingasa of Champion Infinity B.
Becaldo, one of the best sand spikers from the University of the Visayas, will again test the mettle of Tipgos, who used to campaign for University of San Jose-Recoletos. Their rivalry in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. continues in Manila when they clash for the crown and prestige of becoming the tournament's inaugural men’s division champion.