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Rondina, Pons hurdle Japanese foes in FIVB World Tour Boracay Open

BORACAY - The Philippines' Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons made quick work of Japan's Shinako Tanaka and Miyuki Matsumura, 21-14, 21-8, Thursday to barge into the Round of 12 in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Boracay Open at the White House Beach Station 1 here.

A few days removed after completing her indoor volleyball stint for University of Santo Tomas, Rondina quickly adjusted in the sand court to help Pons score their first win in the main draw in front of a lustily-cheering crowd that filled the venue.

"Actually I only had two days of training. But, before entering the training, my mindset was back to outdoors," said Rondina, a four-time UAAP beach volleyball champion for University of Santo Tomas.

"Maybe it's muscle memory and then I watched on YouTube our previous games (with Pons), how we would move. It's all about mindsetting," she added in a mixture of English and Tagalog.

Rondina faced the 43-year old Tanaka for the second straight Beach World Tour. In the Manila Open last year, Rondina, together with her former partner Dzi Gervacio, were eliminated by Tanaka and Fujii Sakurako for a spot in the semifinals in a match that went into three sets.

"Last year, I really wanted to win," said Rondina.

"Now, we won for the first time. And against Japan. They're very strong. Pons and I adjusted and we won," she added.

After a feeling their way early in the match, Rondina and Pons were able to figure out the Japanese weaknesses.

"It's ahrd to block them so we needed to attack. So that's what we did," said Pons.

"It was hard, actually. The sand is deep. But we adjusted. We worked on our breathing because it's really hard to move," said Rondina.

Up next for Rondina and Pons is another Japanese pair, Satono Ishitsubo and Asami Shiba, at 7:50 a.m. Saturday, needing another victory to make it to the quarterfinals outright.

The Philippines' Bea Tan and Dij Rodriguez narrowly lost to Singapore's Eliza Chong and Lau Ee Shan, 21-17, 13-21, 14-16, while the other Filipina pair, Jackie Estoquia and DM DemontaƱo, suffered a 18-21, 14-21 defeat to Australia's Brittany Kendall and Stefanie Weiler.

In men's action, James Buytrago and Krung Arbasto bowed to Singapore's Fan Shen and Kingsley Tay, 12-21, 21-18, 5-15, Jessie Lopez and Ranran Abdilla fell to Norway's Ruben Lovli and Kjetil Tellnes, 21-19, 19-21, 8-15, while Jade Becaldo and Mike Abria lost a 15-21, 14-21 decision to Japan's Jumpei Ikeda and Katsuhiro Shiratori.

The women's pairs of Tan and Rodriguez, and Estoquia and DM DemontaƱo need to hurdle their matches against Tan Hsi Yan and Tasha Mae of Malaysia, and Ekaterina Filina and Ekaterina Zazhigina of Russia, respectively, starting at 8:40 a.m. Saturday to remain in the competition.