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PH beach team kisses Olympic bid goodbye

June 19, 2021 Theodore P. Jurado 654 views

THE Philippine women’s beach volleyball team put up a gallant stand before bowing to a much taller and experienced New Zealand side and ending its Olympic hopes in the in the AVC Continental Cup semifinals in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand on Friday.

Carrying the fight for the Filipinos, Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons left everything on the sand court before dropping a 21-19, 10-21, 12-15 decision to the Kiwis’ Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley in the golden match.

The defeat dashed the Philippines’ hopes of making it to next week’s eight-team Finals, allowing New Zealand and Japan to make it to the third and final phase of the continental tournament which has the lone Tokyo Olympic berth at stake.

The men’s team also ended its Olympic bid after top-ranked Australia swept its two matches.

Aussies Maximilian Guehrer and Zachery Schubert won via forfeit in the second match, as Jude Garcia suffered cramps when the Filipinos were trailing 4-12 in the second set. The pair of Garcia and Anthony Arbasto also dropped the opening set, 11-21.

Australia’s Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann scored a quick 21-11, 21-15 win over the Philippines’ Jaron Requinton and James Buytrago to set the tone for the Oceanian side.

Rondina and Pons played like there was no tomorrow, giving Zeimann and Polley everything to handle to narrowly take the opening set.

Sensing trouble, the Kiwis made a major in-game adjustment by making Pons to work more on offense than Rondina that gave the second set victory and send the match to a decider.

After New Zealand raced to a 4-0 third set lead, the Philippines fought back with Pons leading the charge to keep within reach of its Oceania foes.

But the Filipinos could not break the two-point barrier, the last was 12-14, when the Kiwis were able to claim the win with a Pons service error.

Rondina and Pons gave the Philippines a 21-12, 17-21, 15-9 win over Francesca Kirwan and Olivia MacDonald in the opener. But Dij Rodriguez and Babylove Barbon lost to Zeimann and Polley, 14-21, 13-21, forcing a golden match.

The opening match win was something that Rondina and Pons were so delighted in their first outing since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games were they won the bronze medal.

“Sobrang saya kasi naipanalo namin ang game against New Zealand. ‘Di namin ine-expect iyon kasi they are all experienced veterans,” said Rondina after the match against Kirwan and MacDonald.

“Hindi namin inisip na matatangkad ang kalaban namin. What we did earlier is give our best at mapasaya ang Philippines,” she added.

Prior to the tournament, the Kiwis had their training for the Olympic qualifiers in Australia. (Theodore P. Jurado)