Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons provided a glimpse of the chemistry last seen in 2019 on Friday at Subic’s sand court—the third and last day of the national volleyball and beach volleyball team tryouts organized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation.
The Rondina-Pons tandem—along with Dzi Gervacio and Dij Rodriguez—last played together in the 31st Southeast Asian Games on the same court where they clinched a bronze medal.
That bronze ended the country’s 14-year SEA Games volleyball medal drought and as importantly inspired others to take to the sport as evidenced by the huge turnout on Friday.
The PNVF invited 20 athletes to the women’s beach volleyball tryouts but 21 came—not to mention two potential nationals who are on quarantine for getting in close contact with a a Covid-19 positive coach.
“This goes to show that volleyball—and sports in general, for that matter—is eager to make a comeback amid the pandemic,” PNVF Ramon “Tats” Suzara said. “ We completed three days of tryouts and the turnout of aspirants breached expectations.”
Twenty-one athletes also showed up in the men’s beach volleyball tryouts on Friday afternoon and adding the 16 women and 31 men in the volleyball tryouts on Wednesday and Thursday at the Subic Gym, a total of 89 answered the call for a chance to play for flag and country.
Besides Suzara, PNVF secretary general Don Caringal and board members Charo Soriano (beach volleyball commission head) and Carmela Gamboa (events council head) helped supervise the tryouts staged under a bubble environment drawn by Dr. Jose Raul Canlas (medical commission) and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. “I’m very happy because we are all together again and at the same time it’s fun to be part of the tryouts,” Rondina, 25, said at the close of the tryouts made possible through the efforts of Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig City, the federation’s local government unit “godfather.”
Jovelyn Gonzaga also played in her first official event after declaring that she will go full time in beach volleyball and completing a 90-day retooling course with the Philippine Army.
Ten other senior players joined the women’s tryouts—Alexa Polidario, Erjane Magdato, Babylove Barbon, Princess Robles, Honey Grace Cabansay, Jennifer Cosas, Tin Tiamzon Javen, Sabas, Gen Eslapor and Mer Jauculan.
Roma Mae Doromal, Grydelle Joanice Matibag, Khylem Harl Progella and Samantha Maranan also participated in the tryouts, hoping to land slots in the PNVF’s juniors program.
Leading the men’s cast were Jude Garcia, Jaron Requinton and James Buytrago, who gave the Philippines its first-ever SEA Games men’s beach volleyball medal—a bronze—also in 2019.
Completing the seniors aspirants were Anthony Arbasto, Edwin Tolentino, Ranran Abdilla, Ronald Umang-it, Joven Camaganakan, AJ Pareja, Jade Becaldo, Calvin Sarte, James Pecaña, Jason Uy, Philip Bagalay and Joshua Miña.
Pol Salvador, Rancel Varga, Dominique Gabito, Efraem Dimaculangan, Jay Rack Dela Noche and Alexander Iraya tried out for the juniors slots.