Sisi Rondina, PH beach volley teams begin hunt for Olympic berths

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Cebuana volleyball star Cherry Ann “Sisi” Rondina and the rest of the Philippine beach volleyball team start their bid for berths in the Tokyo Olympics as they compete in the Asian Volleyball Confederation Continental Cup on Friday in Nakhom Pathom, Thailand.

Bannered by Rondina and Bernadeth Pons, the women’s team is expected to have a tough time against the likes of powerhouse Japan and New Zealand, with the men facing the same daunting task against Australia, Japan, Kazakhstan and Lebanon.

The other women’s pair of Dij Rodriguez and Babylove Barbon as well as the men’s tandems of Jaron Requinton and James Buytrago and Jude Garcia and Anthony Arbasto complete the Philippine delegation.

Rondina, the most experienced and decorated player on the team having competed in the Rio 2014 qualifiers, said she will be treating every match like a championship game.

“In this set up, it’s a do or die game because one win, you’re in the final, and one loss, you’re out," Rondina said. “This is a rare opportunity for us, facing very strong teams because we’ve been battling teams in the Southeast Asian regions.”

The Philippines, according to PNVF President Ramon “Tats” Suzara, qualified for the Continental Cup semifinals by virtue of the bronze medal finishes in both the men’s and women’s divisions in the 2019 SEA Games. Only the No. 1 teams in both genders will advance to the Tokyo Olympics. The finals are set on June 24.

This is the country's first international competition in volleyball since the 2019 SEA Games and also for the PNVF since its establishment in January. (JNP)