Barbon, Eslapor bow out of FIVB World Tour Boracay Open

BORACAY - Babylove Barbon and Gen Eslapor bowed to Gerda Grudzinskaite and Karole Virbickaite of Lithuania, 17-21, 14-21, in Thursday's qualifiers of the of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Boracay Open at the White House Beach Station 1 here.

The young Lithuania pair rallied from a 9-11 second set deficit to complete the straight sets win. Barbon has found some positives in their Beach World Tour debut with Eslapor.

"It's our first time and it's too bad the outcome wasn't good. But we got some experience. Their height, we're only as tall as their shoulders. And they have skills," said Barbon.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the Philippines' exciting duo of Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons as the main draw gets going on Friday.

Reunited in the sand court, Rondina and Pons are going all-out to improve the country's best finish of fifth place in the Manila Open last year despite the tremendous odds.

"In this league, the veterans, tall players are here. Still, we can get experience and learn from our upcoming games."

The highly-popular Rondina-Pons tandem debuted in the 29th Southeast Asian beach volleyball tournament im Singapore two years ago when the former collegiate rivals from University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University made it to the quarterfinals.

"It's exciting because this is my first time in the FIVB (World Tour). People will expect ust o do well. We won't just play for the sake of playing. We'll give our best," said Pons. The duo are ready for what lies in the table in a tough international field.

Satono Ishitsubo and Asami Shiba, gold medal winners in the 1-Star Manavgat Open in Turkey last June 2018, will banner Japan's campaign, along with Sakurako Fujii and Minori Kumada, and Shinako Tanaka and Miyuki Matsumura.

Not to be outdone is Thailand, which is led by its young pair of Thatsarida Singchuea and Pawarun Chanthawichai, champions in the SMM Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships last March in Roi Et, Thailand.

The other best Philippines' FIVB World Tour women's best finish was in Osaka, Japan way back in 2008 where Fil-Ams Heidi Ilustre and Diane Pascua took 13th spot.

Other Filipina pairs competing in the 1-star event organized by the Beach Volleyball Republic are Dij Rodriguez and Bea Tan, Jackie Estoquia and DM DemontaƱo, and Fiola Ceballos and Patty Orendain.

Air Force's Ranran Abdilla and Jesse Lopez will spearhead the country's men's campaign, which also includes collegiate standouts James Buytrago and Krung Arbasto, and Cebu's Mike Abria and Jade Becaldo.

Russia's Maxim Sivolap and Artem Yarzutkin, who won the gold in the Kg Speu 1-Star tournament in Cambodia to go with a silver in the Siem Reap 2-star in Thailand last month, leads the men's main draw entrants which also has SMM Asian U21 Beach Volleyball Championships gold medalists Phichakon Narathon and Phanupong Thanan of Thailand.

After Friday's main draw, the Round of 12, and quarterfinal matches is scheduled on Saturday. The semifinals and the medal matches will be played on Sunday.