November 17, 2023

Eslapor, Varga to lead Tiger Sands in UAAP beach volley

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas puts its dynastic rule on the line as the UAAP beach volleyball tournament which opens Friday morning at Sands SM By The Bay.

      The Tiger Sands are eyeing for their sixth consecutive gold in the women's division and a five-peat in the men's side.

      The most successful program in the sport, UST has eighth women's championships overall and seven men's crown.  

      Two-time women's MVP Blove Barbon, who returned to indoor play in the professional Premier Volleyball League, has already graduated, but national team mainstay Gen Eslapor will spearhead the Tiger Sands' campaign.

      Eslapor, who won the BVR Recharged event with Roma Joy Doromal in Batangas last April, will have Mer Jauculan as her partner. Sofiah Pagara will be the team's third player.

      National University, last season's runner-up to UST, hope to rebound this season behind Honey Grace Cordero and Kly Orillaneda, with Kizil Doren Quijote as third player.

      Cordero, last season's Rookie of the Year winner, and Orillaneda won BVR on Tour leg titles with different partners in Sipalay and Candon City, respectively, last June.

      The Tiger Sands, who won 37 consecutive matches dating back from 2016, will open hostilities against Season 85 third placers University of the Philippines, bannered by Euri Eslapor, Gen's sister, Jum Gayo and Irah Jaboneta, at 7 a.m.

      The Lady Bulldogs will take on La Salle's Julieanna Levina, Sophia Sindayen and Gilliana Torres at 7:45 a.m.

      UST will return in the afternoon to face Far Eastern University's Sheila Kiseo, Gerzel Petallo and Melody Pons at 3:30 p.m., while NU will go up against Adamson's Athea Aposaga, Red Bascon and Ishie Lalongisip at 4:15 p.m.

      Other women's morning matches will have Ateneo, bannered by Jana Cane, Roma Mae Doromal and Gena Hora, taking on FEU at 8:30 a.m., and University of the East, starring Van Bangayan, Andrea Germono and Krisha Revilla, playing Adamson at 9:15 a.m.

       In the men's division, reigning MVP Rancel Varga will have Dominique Gabito as new partner and Alche Gupitero as new player as the Tiger Sands play the Blue Eagles' Jian Salarzon, Amil Pacinio and Tim Batac at 10 a.m., and the Fighting Maroons' Angelo Lipata, Christian Pitogo and Leonard Alba at 5 p.m.

       Varga won two BVR on Tour leg titles last June with Ranran Abdilla as his partner.

       James Buytrago and Pol Salvador, together with third player Alexander Iraya, hope to bring the Bulldogs back on top as they will face the Tamaraws' JJ Javelona, Vincent Nadera and Herald Domingo at 10:45 a.m. and the Green Spikers' Andre Espejo, Vince Maglinao and Von Marata, at 5:45 p.m.

      The Falcons' Francis Casas, Dan Gutierrez and Mustadil Laja will tangle with the Fighting Maroons in the resumption of men's action at 2 p.m., while the Red Warriors' Jake Abria, Allen Buensalida and Julian Celestial and the Green Spikers collide at 2:45 p.m.

      Tournament format calls for a single-round robin format with the top four teams making it to the knockout Final Four on Nov. 28.  The winners will advance to the one-match Final in the afternoon, while the losers will face off in the third place match.