Recoletos starts command performance

- Abac Cordero () - March 14, 2003 - 12:00am
Same pair, same strategy and hopefully, the same result.

Under this setup, Norvie Labuga and Jerome Capada of San Jose Recoletos had their title bid getting off to a hot, hot start yesterday as the Visayas leg of the seventh Nestea Beach Volley University Championships got going at the Rockwell Center in Makati.

Labuga and Capada, the smashing, jump-serving students from the town of Naga in Cebu, were crowned men’s champions last year in Boracay and, this early, have shown an even greater intention of keeping the title and the whopping P100,000 top prize that goes with it.

"Ganun pa din ang plano namin,"
said the 25-year-old Labuga after the swift 21-9 victory over the hapless Rey Robles and John Destao of University of San Agustin at the sun-drenched sand court of the Power Plant Mall.

After winning the title and the same amount last year, Labuga and Capada staged a mini beach volley tournament for their friends in Cebu and tossed in a small amount as cash prize. This, they said, would go on should they emerge champions for a second straight year.

"Madaming nag-aabang na manalo ulit kami. Sabi nga ng mga kaibigan namin, dapat
champion ulit," added Labuga, who expects Foundation University from Dumaguete, the team they beat in last year’s finals, to give them another big run for their money.

"Hindi kasi namin napanood ang mga
teams from Luzon. Pero kanina, pinanood namin ang Foundation at malakas pa din. Hindi naman sa hindi namin iniintindi ang iba pero malakas talaga sila." Labuga said after their opening win in the event being presented by Nestea for the seventh straight year.

Foundation University, made up of 2002 veteran Kent Bulabon and high-flying rookie Reynald Catipay, crushed University of Iloilo, 21-9, in the summer event sponsored by Smart, Speedo, Great Eastern Hotel, Le Soleil de Boracay, Cebe, Astring-O-Sol, Mikasa, Philippine Airlines, WG&A, Power Plant Mall and Friday’s.

Other winners in the men’s division yesterday were Southwestern University over University of San Carlos, 21-15; University of Cebu over Colegio dela Purisima Concepcion, 21-10; University of St. La Salle over Negros Occ. Recoletos, 21-16; and University of the Visayas over Iloilo Doctors College, 21-16.

In the women’s division, winning twice and boosting their respective chances were last year’s runner-up Foundation University over USLS (21-17) and WNC (21-11); San Jose Recoletos over UNOR (21-14) and UV (21-18); and SWU over UI (21-10) and CPC (21-8).

The top 24 teams from the Visayas will see action until today to determine the eight semifinalists — four each from both divisions.

The Mindanao leg, featuring eight teams each from both divisions, will be held tomorrow. The top four men’s and women’s teams from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao will then see action in the semis on Sunday with the top eight teams making it to the finals scheduled April 5 and 6 in Boracay.

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