Sisi Rondina and Jovelyn Gonzaga and Genesa Jane Eslapor and Floremel Rodriguez disposed of their respective foes from Japan on Saturday to guarantee the Philippines at least a bronze in the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures at the Subic Bay Sand Court.
Rondina, considered the face of Philippine beach volleyball, and her partner Gonzaga sent home packing Ericka Habaguchi and Saki Maruyama, 18-21, 21-12, 15-7, in a quarterfinals match to advance to Sunday morning’s semifinals.
Eslapor and Rodriguez then took the court to beat Ren Matsumoto and Non Matsumoto, 21-16, 21-18, to earn their own seat to the semis.
That meant two possibilities for the Filipina pairs at the close of action on Sunday in the event organized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF).
First, an all-Filipino final for a 1-2 podium finish looms if Rondina and Gonzaga beat Israel’s Yahli Ashush and Anita Dave and Eslapor and Rodriguez defeat another Japanese tandem Miyu Sakamoto and Mayu Sawame in the semifinals.
If they don’t, they will square off in the battle for bronze set early afternoon Sunday.
Both ways, the Philippines is assured of the podium and a best finish ever in a prestigious international beach volleyball tournament.
“Thank you Sisi,” were Gonzaga’s first words and hugged Rondina tightly during their mixed zone interview moments after the match.
Gonzaga had her shades on but the tears flowing down her cheeks gave her emotions away.
Rondina responded with a playful tap on the cheeks of her partner for only two weeks.
“I’m really motivated and inspired by Sisi [Rondina] in the second set after struggling in the first set,” Gonzaga said. “She gave me confidence and she trusted me so I stepped up and finally made some key plays.”
It was only two weeks ago when Gonzaga was tapped to replace Bernadeth Pons, who has yet to fully recover from a shoulder injury. The Rondina-Pons tandem won back-to-back bronze medals in the Southeast Asian Games.
The Rondina-Gonzaga vs Ashush-Dave semifinal is set at 8 a.m. Sunday while the Eslapor-Rodriguez vs Dvronikova-Pospisilova duel follows at 9 a.m. The final is at 1:30 p.m.