LINGAYEN, Philippines – Pangasinan-1’s Jennifer Manzano and her new partner Cindy Benitez overcame the stiff breeze blowing towards Lingayen Gulf in claiming the 2012 Petron Ladies’ Beach Volleyball Battle of Champions crown Friday.
Low-angled shots across the net did the trick for the 24-year-old Manzano and Benitez, who disposed of Rizal Technological U standouts Jessa Aranda and rookie Jonafer San Pedro, 21-8, 21-9, in the finals at the provincial capitol beachfront.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya huwag taasan ang bola. Mahangin, kaya mababa lang,” said Manzano, who earned her sixth title in the Petron volleyball series. She took the second-leg crown with Benitez last May.
Manzano fired three aces to jumpstart Pangasinan-1 to a 5-1 lead in the first set, before her drop shots with Benitez allowed them to move out of range 10-3.
A couple of aces from Benitez, a former University of the Cordilleras (UC) Lady Jaguars standout who now works for the Benguet Electric Cooperative, gave Pangasinan-1 a 15-5 lead.
Adjusting better to the westerly, late-morning winds in the second set, Manzano and Benitez had little trouble gathering steam with their 7-2 advantage.
Momentum was now on their side when Pangasinan-1 moved away for good, 14-7, en route to the title triumph.
The spikefest is supported by Speedo, Mikasa, media partner Business Mirror, the province of Pangasinan, through Gov. Amado Espino Jr. and Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil (second district).
Manzano, a graduate of La Salle-Dasmariñas and currently assistant coach of the women’s varsity team, and Benitez made it to the finals after they got past Pangasinan-2’s Melanie Carrera and Cassandra Lleda in the semifinals, 21-14, 21-11.
Aranda and San Pedro earned a crack at the title after beating last year’s Battle of Champions winner Francislyn Cais and new teammate Kryssel Cueva of UE-1, 17-21, 21-16, 15-9.