Rondina banners PH ‘beach’ challenge

NO rest for sand court sensation Sisi Rondina as the newly-minted UAAP women’s volleyball MVP will head straight to the scenic Boracay Island to banner the Philippines in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour starting Thursday at the White House Beach Station 1.

After steering University of Santo Tomas to a runner-up finish over the weekend, Rondina will be reunited with Bernadeth Pons in the four-day, double-gender tournament, which also includes other Filipina pairs Dij Rodriguez and Bea Tan, Jackie Estoquia and DM Demontaño, and Fiola Ceballos and Patty Orendain in the main draw.

A fifth women’s pair - Babylove Barbon and Gen Eslapor - will go through the qualifiers.

Air Force’s Ranran Abdilla and Jesse Lopez will spearhead the country’s men’s campaign, which also includes collegiate standouts James Buytrago and Krung Arbasto, and Cebu’s Mike Abria and Jade Becaldo.

“We are looking to see how we will fare against the international teams,” said Tan, who paired with Charo Soriano in last year’s Manila Open. “We are very excited about that.”

Organized by Beach Volleyball Republic, the tournament  attracted a total of 20 women’s and 28 men’s teams from 17 countries led by traditional powerhouse Japan.

“We’re really expecting a heavy challenge from Japan since they are extensively preparing for the Olympics,” said Soriano, the BVR co-founder who is also this year’s tournament director.

Most of the players will fly for Boracay today to familiarize themselves with the sand court, as the Philippines hopes to duplicate, if not surpass its quarterfinals finish by Rondina and Dzi Gervacio in the Manila Open last year.