Sisi Rondina and Bernadeth Pons could not lead the Philippines to a Tokyo Olympic berth as the country's national women's beach volleyball team concluded its AVC Continental Cup campaign in heartbreaking fashion on Friday in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand.
The Filipinas stood their ground against New Zealand's Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley but errors hounded the seasoned tandem at the critical juncture of the match which sent them crashing in three sets, 21-19,10-21, 12-15.
In the opening set, momentum swung back and forth as both teams tried to tip the scales to their favor. Toeing the line, Rondina delivered the goods late with a quick-witted one-two play, helping the Philippines escape New Zealand by the skin of its teeth for an early buffer.
The Kiwis caught the Filipinas by surprise with a 10-2 run at the onset of the second set, a deficit which proved to hard to overturn, setting up a decisive third frame.
As soon as the decider started, the Zeimann-Polley duo raced out of the gates to take a commanding 10-5 lead. From that point onward, the Philippines still tried to close the gap but errors piled on late in the set, pushing New Zealand over the finish line.
Pons spearheaded the offensive thrust of the Filipinas with a game-high 25 points. She took the bulk of the scoring in the loss as Rondina struggled throughout the match with only a nine-point production.
New Zealand, on the other hand, unleashed a balanced scoring barrage as Zeimann poured in 22 markers while Polley finished with 20 of her own.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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