(Photo courtesy of UAAP)
FAR Eastern University pulled off the biggest opening day surprise in the women's division, while University of Santo Tomas and National University lived up to the billing as the UAAP beach volleyball tournament started at the Sands SM By The Bay yesterday.
The Lady Tamaraws, who finished last season with a 3-4 record in fifth place, displayed tremendous composure in the thrilling 62-minute contest to repulse the Tiger Sands, 18-21, 21-19, 18-16, ending the España-based squad's remarkable 38-match winning streak.
The last time UST tasted defeat was in Game 2 of the Season 79 Finals, when Sisi Rondina and Jem Gutierrez bowed to FEU's Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza, 21-17, 17-21, 13-15, on Oct. 9, 2016.
Starring Melody Pons, Bernadeth's younger sister, and Gerzel Petallo, FEU opened the season with a 21-19, 21-18 conquest of Ateneo's Jana Cane and Roma Mae Doromal.
UST is eyeing a sixth consecutive gold in the women's division.
The Tiger Sands, with Gen Eslapor having Sofiah Pagara as her new partner, earned a split after two matches. UST began its season with a 21-9, 21-11 victory over University of the Philippines' Euri Eslapor and Irah Jaboneta.
It was a dominating opening day for the UST men's team, which is seeking a five-peat.
Alche Gupiteo and Rancel Varga set in motion their title campaign with a 21-11, 21-19 win over Ateneo's Jian Salarzon and Amil Pacinio and 21-9, 21-12 conquest of University of the Philippines' Christian Pitogo and Angelo Lipata.
National University's Honey Grace Cordero and Kly Orillaneda began its quest for the women's championship by defeating La Salle's Julieanna Levina and Sophia Sindayen, 21-7, 21-12, and Adamson's Ishie Lalongisip and Red Bascon, 21-11, 21-8.
The Lady Bulldogs, last season's runners-up, joined the Lady Tamaraws on top of the standings at 2-0.
Lalongisip and Bascon, who replaced Athea Aposaga in the first set, topped University of the East's Van Bangayan and Andrea Germono, 13-21, 21-13, 15-4.
The Bulldogs' James Buytrago and Alex Iraya topped FEU's Vincent Nadera and JJ Javelona, 21-12, 21-12, and swept La Salle's Andre Espejo and Vince Maglinao, 21-13, 21-12.
Pitogo and Lipata, who downed Adamson's Francis Casas and Dan Gutierrez, 21-17, 21-17, fell to 1-1, the same record Espejo and Maglinao, who subdued UE's Jake Abria and Allen Buensalida, 21-13, 21-16.
Action resumes at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning for Day 2.