MANILA, Philippines – Two of the Philippines' best sand court players, Bernadeth Pons and Cherry Rondina, find themselves at opposite sides when Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) dispute the first finals berth in the UAAP Season 80 women's beach volleyball tournament.
Both sporting identical 6-0 slates, the Lady Tamaraws and the Tigresses battle for the outright slot in the best-of-three championship series at 3 p.m. on Thursday at the Sands SM By the Bay.
The loser will drop to No. 2 and settle for having a twice-to-beat advantage in the step-ladder semifinals.
FEU's Pons and UST's Rondina were club teammates in the offseason, and partnered when the Philippines competed in the Southeast Asian Beach Volleyball Games last month.
They will add another chapter to their long rivalry, with Pons teaming up with Kyla Atienza in an attempt to take down Rondina and her new partner, Caitlyn Viray.
De La Salle University's Tin Tiamzon and May Luna (3-3) and Ateneo de Manila University's Bea de Leon and Jules Samonte (2-4) collide at 3:30 p.m., with the Lady Spikers gunning for the last semis berth. A win by the Lady Eagles will force a playoff against their fierce rivals for the No. 4 slot in the step-ladder semifinals.
Also in the semis is the pair of Diana Carlos and Ayel Estrañero of University of the Philippines (UP), which is making its first appearance since 2012 when Aia del Mundo and Pau Genido finished fourth.
In the men’s division, the National University’s (NU) Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad are a win away of gaining an outright passage to the best-of-three Finals.
Unbeaten in six contests, NU will go for the championship slot against UP at 5:30 p.m.
Titleholder UST and FEU are in joint second with 5-1 record. The Growling Tigers and the Tamaraws clash for the No. 2 ranking in the semifinals at 5 p.m.
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