MANILA, Philippines – On Sunday, the women’s final of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures featured an all-Philippine team. Sisi Rondina and Jovelyn Gonzaga defeated Genesa Jane “Jen” Eslapor and Floremel Rodriguez, 22 to 24, 21 to 12, and 15 to 12.
Eslapor required a five-minute medical stoppage in the second set to treat cramps that rose from her legs to her abdomen, and Rondina experienced cramps in her right leg that extended all the way to her thigh throughout the entire match.
However, both teams fought hard, with Espalor’s PHL Blue team pulling ahead of Rondina’s Blue squad, 10 to 12, after the medical intermission with four straight service aces. This set up a decisive match.
But Rondina persevered and made the final three baskets of the contest to win the match and the title. She was frequently spotted lifting the toes of her right foot to prevent cramps.
At the conclusion of the championship match, which drew a raucous audience to the Subic Bay Sand Court, Rondina, the most accomplished of the four finalists, commented, “We were exhausted after having gone through the competition, the strain, and the fierce opposition.”
The two-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medallist alongside Bernadeth Pons, who is recovering from a shoulder ailment, admitted that she “could hardly jump” even during their pre-final practice.
Like their final victims, Rondina and Gonzaga were eager to leave later on Sunday, and relief was written all over them.
In preparation for an early exit from the competition run by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation, all four players had flights scheduled for Sunday night at Manila’s airport: Rondina to Cebu, Rodriguez to Negros Occidental, and Espolar to Cagayan de Oro (PNVF).
Both people said, “No party for us.”
A sizable crowd attended the championship game, but it was difficult to tell which team they supported. They were grateful to both teams for entertaining their supporters with thrilling exchanges and daring dives for misplaced balls.
Gonzaga remarked of the Eslapor-Rodriguez combination, “Credit to them, they are also good and powerful,” and added that she could finally unwind and receive the restful sleep she had been missing before the event.
Espolar and Rodriguez also played more loosely and as though it were just a practice match in the championship.
Rodriguez explained, “It’s all Filipino, so we walked out there playing as if we were just practicing. Yes, they put up a terrific fight against us, but so did we.
The 1 to 2 results in a Volleyball World event, according to PNVF President Ramon “Tats” Suzara, was the best showing by any Philippine team.
The PNVF national team program will undoubtedly work hard to improve in the international arena, according to Suzara, who noted that the outcome bodes well for Philippine volleyball.
In the semifinal match on Sunday morning, Rondina and Gonzaga defeated Israel’s Yahli Ashush and Anita Dave 20 to 22, 21 to 8, 17 to 15, while Eslapor and Rodriguez defeated Miyu Sakamoto and Mayu Sawame of Japan 16 to 21, 28 to 26, 15 to 13.
Israelis were defeated by Sakamoto and Sawame, 21 to 15, 21 to 18, in the competition for the bronze medal.