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Rondina, Pons fall to Japan, impress despite FIVB World Tour exit

Rondina, Pons fall to Japan, impress despite FIVB World Tour exit

MANILA, Philippines—It wasn’t the result the home supporters wanted as the pair of Cherry Rondina and Bernadeth Pons bowed to Japan’s Sakurako Fujii and Minori Kumada, 21-17, 21-19, to end the country’s campaign in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Boracay Open Saturday at White House Beach in Station 1, Boracay.

The Philippines matched its best result in the tournament after Rondina and Dzi Gervacio finished fifth in the Manila Open 1-star in 2018.

Coincidentally, Sakurako was the one who defeated Rondina and Gervacio in 2018 when she paired up with Shinako Tanaka.

“We’re still grateful that we were able to play against them, we’ve gained so much experience,” said Rondina in Filipino.

Rondina and Pons, three-time champions in the Philippine Super Liga beach volleyball tournament, finished their FIVB debut as partners with two wins.

The pair blasted Russia’s Ekaterina Filina and Ekaterina Zazhigina to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals but lost to Japan’s Satono Ishitsubo and Asami Shiba, 21-16, 21-19, earlier in the day.

“We weren’t down big, we weren’t beaten that bad, we saw that we can match up with them,” said Pons in Filipino. “We just need to have a longer preparation and more exposure in international tournaments.”

Sakurako, who paired with Minori for six events this year, was impressed with how Rondina played, noting the improvement the 5-foot-6 dynamo had from 2018.

“Rondina was tough, she improved her defense,” said Sakurako. “I remember last year she was good in digging, she also improved in receiving.”

“It’s a huge honor because a Japanese player said that because beach volleyball is big in Japan,” said Rondina.

Sakurako added that they played not just against Rondina and Pons but also against the loud Filipino crowd.

“Everybody was cheering for the Philippines but we just focused in our game,” said Sakurako.