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Sports

Tats eyes four volley golds

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Philippine National Volleyball Federation president Tats Suzara is aiming for four volleyball gold medals at the Hanoi SEA Games and while the target is a year ahead of schedule, hes optimistic of a breakthrough.

Four golds are our target for the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia but were going for it this year,” said Suzara. “We can do it. Everybodys working hard.” At the 2019 SEA Games, the Philippines collected a silver in mens indoor, bronze in mens beach and bronze in womens beach. The womens indoor team took fourth place but nearly claimed the bronze, losing to Indonesia in a playoff via a five-set heartbreaker.

Suzara said hes upbeat on the chances of the womens beach pairs of Sisi Rondina-Bernadette Pons and Jovy Gonzaga-Dij Rodriguez. The tandems recently trained for 15 days in Brisbane, Australias beach volleyball capital, and joined a three-day competition where over 40 teams played. With only a month of playing together, Gonzaga and Rodriguez took the gold in the Challenger Division I final, 18-21, 21-19, 15-13 while Rondina and Pons claimed the silver after dropping a 21-18, 21-12 decision in the Elite Division final.

Rondina, a four-time UAAP beach MVP, said it wasnt easy making it to the final. Three games were played each day and as the smallest in the Elite Division, the 5-6 Rondina had to scramble all over the Coolangatta beach sands to retrieve balls. The opposition was tough with top-notch teams from Australia and New Zealand, including a 2016 Olympian. Rondina struggled through cramps in both legs but gave it her all in the final.

Suzara said training with Australian coaches to complement the Filipino coaches was a boost. “Maliliit tayo pero mabibilis,” he said. “Were beginning to play like Australians. We were invited to participate in a tournament in Songkla, Thailand but we declined. We dont want to show our improvement. Actually, we planned to train in Japan with their national team but couldnt go because of travel restrictions. Luckily, my colleague in FIVB with the Australian federation accommodated us.” Suzara said after the SEA Games, he intends to send the womens beach teams back to Australia or Brazil for more seasoning before the Hangzhou Asian Games.

PNVF

SEA GAMES

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