(Photo courtesy of UAAP)
NATIONAL University became the lone undefeated team in the women's division as Honey Grace Cordero and Kly Orillaneda overcame a tough second set stand by Far Eastern University's Melody Pons and Gerzel Petallo to hammer out a 21-12, 21-19 win in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament at Sands SM By The Bay Friday.
Cordero and Orillaneda displayed tremendous poise in the second set to foil Pons and Petallo's bid to extend the match, steering the Lady Bulldogs to a perfect 6-0 record.
The Lady Tamaraws, who will make their first Final Four appearance since 2019, saw their unbeaten five-match streak came to an end.
Defending champion University of Santo Tomas, which will face NU in a rematch of last season's Finals at 7 a.m. Saturday, moved in a tie with FEU in second place at 5-1 after Sofiah Pagara and Gen Eslapor overpowered University of the East's Van Bangayan and Krisha Revilla, 21-17, 21-12.
The Tiger Sands and the Lady Bulldogs, who have yet to yield a set in the tournament, have nothing to play in the elims finale except for the ranking.
Men's titleholder UST and NU, meanwhile, primed up to their much-anticipated Finals rematch after extending their perfect runs to 6-0.
Alche Gupiteo and reigning MVP Rancel Varga made quick work of UE's Julian Celestial and Allen Buensalida, 21-8, 21-9, while James Buytrago and Alex Iraya, who have yet to drop a set this season, bested UP's Christian Pitogo and Gelo Lipata, 21-11, 21-12.
The Tiger Sands and the Bulldogs go at it at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the final elims rankings to be settled.
The Lady Tamaraws started the day with a narrow 22-24, 21-11, 16-14 victory over University of the Philippines' Euri Eslapor and Irah Jaboneta.
UP rebounded from its heartbreaking loss to FEU with a 21-9, 21-9 win over Adamson's Ishie Lalongisip and Red Bascon in the afternoon session to improve to 3-3 in fourth place.
Ateneo kept its hopes for the remaining Final Four alive as Roma Mae Doromal and Gena Hora downed La Salle's Sophia Sindayen and Gilliana Torres, 21-12, 21-15.
The fifth-running Blue Eagles move to 2-4, a game behind the Fighting Maroons.
UP will secure the No. 4 spot if it beats La Salle at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday.
For the Blue Eagles to force a playoff for the last semis slot, Doromal and Hora need to beat the Lady Warriors at 9:15 a.m., coupled by a Fighting Maroons loss to the Lady Spikers.
Sindayen and Torres gave La Salle its first win at the expense of Lalongisip and Bascon, 15-21, 21-16, 15-12.
The Lady Falcons, the Lady Warriors and the Lady Spikers have similar 1-5 records.
Ateneo's Jian Salarzon and Amil Pacinio went through the wringer before defeating Pitogo and Lipata, 15-21, 21-18, 15-8, and later clinched the third Final Four slot with a 21-16, 21-13 sweep of La Salle's Andre Espejo and Vince Maglinao.
The sweep allowed the Blue Eagles to raise their record to 4-2.
FEU's Vincent Nadera and JJ Javelona stunned Espejo and Maglinao, 21-14, 21-14, in the morning session and later swept Adamson's Francis Casas and Dan Gutierrez, 21-9, 21-17, to complete the semis cast, tying Ateneo at 4-2.
With their fourth loss in six matches, the Fighting Maroons and the Green Spikers bowed out of Final Four contention.
The Falcons and the Red Warriors remained winless in six contests.