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Sports

Japan beach volley pair puts on show

The Philippine Star
Japan beach volley pair puts on show
Saki Maruyama and Erika Habaguchi.
STAR / File

SUBIC, Philippines — Japan’s Saki Maruyama and Erika Habaguchi flexed just enough muscles under a blazing sun yesterday to lead the march of qualifiers to the main draw of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures at the Subic Bay Sand Court.

Maruyama and Habaguchi, however, had to eliminate Ami Shirahata and Sayaka Yamada, 21-18, 22-20, from a seven-pair Japanese contingent in the tournament organized by the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF).

Regardless, Maruyama and Habaguchi were a happy tandem that enjoyed the Subic sun and the warm welcome from the enthusiastic  fans that crowded them for selfies.

“It was hot but we enjoyed our match,” said Habaguchi.

Canada’s Darby Dunn and Olivia Grace Furlan rallied past France’s Manon Rebuffel and Melody Benhamou, 18-21, 21-18, 15-10, to advance to the women’s main draw where three teams from the Philippines as well as 11 more squads from Japan, Norway, Singapore, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, United States, Canada, South Korea and France await.

The fans, Habaguchi said, were just too enthusiastic to meet, greet and take selfies with the Japanese pair who competed in a Challenger event only two weeks ago in Torquay, Australia.

“They’re all very cute,” both Habaguchi and Maruyama, 30, who were sought for selfies by school-aged kids drawn to the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB)-standard competition as well as local volunteers who they described as “very friendly and hospitable.”

Ryoto Sato and Ryo Shindo also of Japan advanced to the men’s main draw after beating Austria’s Stefan Schosswohl and Matthias Gersin, 21-19, 23-21, along with Israeli’s Tomer Hadar and David Lanciano, who outplayed Czech’s David Lenc and Filif Habr, 22-20, 21-18.

The qualifiers went well into late afternoon with four men and four women teams earning tickets to the main draw for men and women of the event supported by the Philippine Sports Commission, PLDT Home and Rebisco and also backed by Akari, F2 Logistics, Asics, SBMA, Philippine Olympic Committee, Smart Giga Play, Cignal Play, OneSports, OneSports+, Senoh and Mikasa.

ERIKA HABAGUCHI

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