UAAP beach volley fires off Sat

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De La Salle University begins its quest for a second straight women’s title when the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 beach volleyball tournament unfolds on Saturday at the Sands SM By The Bay.

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The Lady Spikers’ Desiree Cheng and Tin Tiamzon will cross paths with Far Eastern University’s Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza at 8 a.m. and University of the Philippines’ Diana Carlos and Arielle Estrañero at 12 noon.

Cheng and Tiamzon hope to follow-up the feat of their teammates Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo, who powered La Salle it to its first-ever women’s title in the sand court last season.

Fajardo, who also won the Season 78 Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors, will be the third player (alternate) this season.

The Lady Spikers’ biggest threat in the throne are the Lady Tamaraws pair of Pons and Atienza, who have shown their readiness by winning last weekend’s one-day league at the Cantada Sports Center.

Hoping to regain the title it won two years ago, University of Santo Tomas will rely again on battle-tested Cherry Rondina and her new partner Jem Gutierrez, while Ateneo will turn to comebacking Michelle Morente and Ria Lo as it vies for the elusive championship.

The Tigresses failed to make it to the Final Four last season, while the Lady Eagles could only muster third place despite having superstar Alyssa Valdez at the helm.

Ateneo and UST will face off at 8:30 a.m, followed by the UP-Adamson University match at 9 a.m. and National University-University of the East tussle at 9:30 a.m.

After the Lady Spikers-Lady Maroons clash to open the afternoon session, the Lady Eagles and the Lady Bulldogs collide at 12:30 p.m., the Lady Tamaraws and the Lady Falcons tackle at 1 p.m. and the Tigresses and the Lady Warriors play at 1:30 p.m.

In the men’s division, Marck Espejo will have Ish Polvorosa as his new partner as Ateneo also goes for a back-to-back title romp.

The Blue Eagles take on the Growling Tigers in a rematch of last season’s Finals series at 10:30 a.m., and the Bulldogs in the afternoon match at 2:30 p.m.

Ateneo bagged its first title last year behind Espejo and Ysay Marasigan, who was named the tournament MVP.

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