MANILA, Philippines -- University of Santo Tomas (UST) continued its dominance on the sand, as their men's and women's teams completed another golden double in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament, Sunday at the Sands SM By The Bay.
The pair of Babylove Barbon and Gen Eslapor withstood the tough De La Salle University tandem of Tin Tiamzon and Justine Jazareno in the finals to complete another perfect season and a women's four-peat.
UST claimed its seventh women's championship and the first in the post-Sisi Rondina era. Barbon, who had to fill a huge void left by Rondina to cement the Tigresses' dynasty, was named the MVP.
"Sobrang saya kasi 'yung goal namin ay ma-defend ang crown. Nagawa po namin siya. Inalay po namin 'yung game sa UST, sa mga taong naniniwala sa amin at lalong lalo na kay Ate Sisi," said Barbon.
"Ilang din years siyang nag-champion kaya ayaw naming mabigo siya. Iniwan niya ang team na laging nagtsa-champion kaya kailangan naming ituloy na laging champion," the Quezon, Bukidnon native added.
The Tigresses needed to outlast the Lady Spikers, 21-14, 20-22, 15-12, in the finals opener.
UST survived a gallant De La Salle stand in the extended opening set and withstood its foes late second frame uprising to fashion out a 28-26, 21-18 victory to emerge as queens once more.
"Sobrang galing din nila po," said Barbon of the Lady Spikers, who finished bridesmaids for the second straight year.
Barbon and Eslapor's connection worked wonders for the Tigresses, who extended their winning run to 29 games dating back from 2016.
"May chemistry talaga po kami kasi ilang off-season leagues kami na sinasalihan. Doon kami kumukuha ng idea kung paano maglaro dito sa UAAP," said Barbon.
Roma Mae Doromal, who with Ponggay Gaston powered Ateneo to third place, took the Rookie of the Year honors.
In the men's division, Rancel Varga and Jaron Requinton completed a 10-0 campaign, sweeping Far Eastern University's (FEU) Jude Garcia and Doy Barrica in the finals.
The Tiger Spikers won their second straight crown, dominating the Tamaraws with an easy 21-11, 21-11 win in Game 1 before closing out with a 21-15, 21-19 victory.
"Consistent ang ipinakita namin ni Jaron hanggang dulo. Iniaalay namin ito sa UST, kay God, at sa family namin sa sumusuporta at sa mga coaches," said Varga, who was named the season MVP.
"'Yung inspirasyon po namin 'yung hirap sa training at 'yung pagpunta ng family ko po sa Manila, kaya nakuha ko 'yung tropeo at 'yung bonus kong natanggap, which is 'yung MVP po," he added.
Varga praised the Tiger Spikers' former champions Krung Arbasto and KR Guzman for keeping the faith.
"Para sa kanila din dito. Palagi po kaming gina-guide. Tinuturuan po kami kung ano ang tactics, kung ano ang technique sa paglalaro ng beach volleyball," said Varga.
UST thus annexed a league-best fifth crown.
National University's James Natividad and James Buytrago outlasted Adamson University's Leo Miranda and Jesus Valdez, 22-20, 15-21, 15-9, to claim third place.
The Rookie of the Year honors went to Buytrago.
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