MANILA, Philippines – Defending national champion Central Philippine University (CPU) and the University of Visayas (UV) showed their fierce form last Saturday as they completed their domination of the 15th NESTEA Beach Volley National Finals at the Boracay sandcourt in Aklan.
|Central Philippines University’s beach volleyaball rookie Fiola Mae Ceballos hits a hard spike during the fight for the championship against the University of Mindanao - Tagum in the finals of the 15th NESTEA Beach Volley in Boracay last April 21. The defending champions won in 2 sets, 21-13, 21-17.
CPU bets Jovelyn Gonzaga and Fiola Mae Ceballos defended the women's crown in convincing fashion, beating University of Mindanao-Tagum's (UM-T) Lourdilyn Catubag and Karen Kay Quilario, 21-13 and 21-17.
"It's our honor to succesfully defend the crown," said Gonzaga, a graduating Education student and also a member of CPU's winning team in 2010. "We were really determined to win it all again."
Meanwhile, UV spikers Jade Becaldo and Mike Abria shared the day’s spotlight as they were crowned the new men's champions, defeating fellow Visayans, University of San Jose-Recoletos' Jade Illut and Jason Uy, 21-16 and 21-19.
"Our defense spelled the biggest difference," Abria said. "We're happy that all our efforts in practice paid off."
The CPU and UV players collected the top purse of P100,000 each, while UM-T and the CSJ-R teams settled for the P65,000 runners-up prize in the three-day event presented by NESTEA.
Anchored by Maruja Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo, the University of Santo Tomas finished third in the women's division courtesy of their 17-21, 21-14 and 15-7 win over Adamson University's Angela Benting and Pau Soriano.
UM-T's Daryl Kim Lapiz and Jefty Amora clinched the second runners-up honors in the men's division by outlasting Arellano University's John Carlo Lozada and Chris Salvador, 21-14, 17-21 and 15-12.
UST and UM-T took home P35,000 each while Adamson and Arellano both gained P22,500 in the beach spectacle sanctioned by the Philippine Volleyball Federation.
Gracing the event was Eric Lecain, who serves as a consultant for the Philippine Sports Commission and is on the lookout for future national beach volleyball players and Olympians.
"I think the NESTEA Beach Volleyball is a great idea. Volleyball is one Olympic sport that, realistically, Filipinos can excel in. Beach volleyball is the perfect sport for Filipinos because you have plenty of beaches to use as an accessible training ground," Lecain said.
Lecain compared the NESTEA Beach Volley tournament to the United States' AVP Tour, saying, "it's the best place to shop for Filipino players."
"This is the main event when it comes to beach volleyball. There is so much talent among these college kids and a lot of potential, especially on the women's side," he added.
Lecain believes that if the beach volleyball program continues to succeed in the coming years, the Philippines "might be able to qualify for the Olympics in the next eight years."
Local celebrities led by actor Derek Ramsay, singer Karylle, actor-comedian Vice Ganda also saw action in a three-set exhibition game late in the afternoon.