Petron’s vaunted pair of Cherry Rondina and Bernadeth Pons are still favorites. However, they will face a tough field in their bid for back-to-back titles in Philippine Superliga Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup, which kicks off tomorrow.
Pons and Rondina were dominant last year, going undefeated throughout the tournament.
Though beach volleyball savant Jovelyn Gonzaga will not be suiting up due to an ACL injury, Rondina and Pons will be looking at a field of more beach volleyball veterans compared to past editions of the Challenge Cup.
Comprising the packed field are Beach Volleyball Republic champions DM Demontaño and Jackie Estoquia representing Sta. Lucia – A; NCAA champions Nieza and Jeziela Viray will suit up for Foton; and Cignal – A will field Mylene Paat and Rap Aguilar.
Accomplished PSL veterans will also see action.
Former Challenge Cup champions Danika Gendrauli and Nene Bautista team up for the first time for Cocolife – A; Bang Pineda and Sheika Espinosa pair up for Generika Ayala – B; while Fiolla Ceballos and Patty Orendain represent Generika Ayala – A.
“Noong past season kasi puro mga players din ng indoor ‘yung pinapadala ng teams. Ngayon, mas maraming nagpadala ng beach volleyball players talaga,” said Pons, who, along with Rondina, represented the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Beach Volleyball Cup in 2017.
Petron’s prized pair ran circles around their competition last year and dominated the UAAP for their respective schools.
They see this tournament as their toughest local tournament as a pair.
“Mahirap po talaga kasi hindi mo rin po masasabi kung paano ‘yung lalaruin mo against sa ibang teams. Tatrabahuhin na lang po namin every game,” closed Pons.
The 12 pairs will be split into four groups. The top two teams of each group move on to a knockout, crossover quarterfinals. The Finals will be on Sunday at the SM Sands by the Bay.