Top 10 volleyball stories of 2018: FIVB Manila Open

As 2018 winds down, we look back at the headlines that shaped the sport this year. These are the stories that made us our jaw drop in amazement or shed a tear due to pride. There may never be happy endings all the time. But these events made us feel better as a fan or as a citizen of this great nation. Thus, we list down the top 10 stories that defined Philippine volleyball. These are in no particular order.

Kings and queens of sand take center stage

The eighth leg of the 1-Star FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 2018 was held in Manila last May 3-6 at the Sands SM By The Bay. A total of 50 teams from 24 countries participated in the three-day competition. In the end, the team of Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers from Germany took the gold in the Men’s Division while Japan’s Takemi Nishibori and Ayumi Kusano of Japan won the Women’s Division championship. The Philippines had eight teams in the competition which are evenly split into the two categories.

Filipino male beach volleyball players take on some of the world’s finest

A Filipino duo is included in all preliminary pools in the FIVB Manila Open 2018. In the men’s side, the tandem of Jade Becaldo and Calvin Sarte were part of Pool A while Raphy Abanto and John Kevin Juban were in Pool B. Representing the Philippines in Pool C are Edwin Tolentino and Spiker’s Turf Open Conference 2018 finals MVP Ranran Abdilla. Rounding up the local competitors are KR Guzman and Henry Pecana in Pool D.

Sadly, none of the teams won a match in the preliminaries. Becaldo and Sarte had the best performance among the four Filipino teams by winning two sets and scoring 112 points. The sets that they won were against Martin Appelgren and Simon Boman of Sweden and Petr Bakhnar and Taras Myskiv of Russia. Meanwhile, Abdilla and Tolentino won a set over Pui Lam Wong and Kelvin Lau of Hong Kong. They also managed to score 79 points but gave up 98.

Both the Abanto-Juban and Guzman-Pecana tandems did not win a set and scored a total of 60 points apiece. However, the former gave up 85 points while the latter surrendered 87. All four teams were eliminated by the Round of 12.

Girl power on sand

The best Pinay beach volleyball players were also scattered among all four pools in the Women’s Division. The Sta. Lucia Realtors duo of Jackie Estoquia and Dhannylaine Demontano were part of Pool A. At Pool B are former Ateneo Lady Eagles and Beach Volleyball Republic founders Charo Soriano and Bea Tan. Lourdilyn Catubag and Karen Kay Quilaro were delegated in Pool C. Assigned in Pool D are Dzi Gervacio of the Banko Perlas Lady Spikers with four-time UAAP women’s beach volleyball champion and MVP Cherry Ann Rondina.

The tandems of Catubag-Quilario and Gervacio-Rondina made it to the Round of 12. The Pool C representatives from the Philippines defeated Ting Chi Yuen and Wai Yan Au Yeung of Hong Kong in three sets, 21-13, 18-21, 15-11. Meanwhile, Gervacio and Rondina scored a victory against Lindsay Fuller and Kaley Melville in straight sets, 21-12, 21-16. The Estoquia-Demontano and Soriano-Tan duos did not claim even a single set. The Pool A representatives scored 60 and gave up 84 while the Pool B competitors tallied 46 and also surrendered 84.

Two Pinay tandems advance

Catubag and Quilario ended their campaign with a bitter loss to Thatsarida Singchuea and Pawarun Chanthawichai of Thailand in the Round of 12. All three sets of their thrilling match were extended as the Philippine duo took the first set, 36-34. However, the Thais won the second, 25-23, and the third, 17-15.

On the other hand, Gervacio and Rondina booked a quarterfinal ticket by dominating Megan Nagy and Caleigh Cruickshank in straight sets, 21-17, 21-17. They also won the second set of their quarterfinal match against Shinako Tanaka and Fujii Sakurako of Japan, 21-17. However, the Japanese took the first, 21-13, and third set, 15-11, to eliminate the last Philippine team in contention.

Unlimited potential for Philippine beach volleyball

The FIVB Manila Open gave a glimpse of what the Philippines can achieve in the sport. Training ground won’t be a problem with countless shorelines sprinkled around the country. Beach Volleyball Republic is also bringing the competition closer to the people by conducting tournaments in various places. Their December Open and their Dumaguete leg are a taste of how exciting beach volleyball can be.

Launching a grassroots program for beach volleyball should be no-brainer. With limitless beach fronts, all we need are players who buy in to its potential. It’s even easier to build a team for you only need two or three players instead of six in indoor volleyball. We can only hope that it’s popularity is on the way up and will not be set in sand.