THE University of the Visayas (UV) men’s team gave itself a fitting gift after clinching a three-peat in the 2018 Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) beach volleyball tournament at the Fort San Pedro sand court three days before Christmas.

UV proved to be too much as it asserted its mastery with a straight sets win over a determined University of San Carlos (USC), 21-17, 21-11, in the men’s championship on Saturday, Dec. 22.

The tandem of John Kevin Juban and Raphy Abanto used their experience against USC to close out the first set before completely pulling away in the second set.

Juban has been part of all the three championship teams of UV, while it was the second time for Abanto and the first for Fortunato Libres.

“This three-peat is a very wonderful Christmas gift for us. The trainings during school days and the hard work really paid off,” said the 20-year-old education student Juban.

Abanto, who was named the men’s MVP, said it was their experience in various beach volleyball competitions in places like Cagayan, Bantayan Island, Ilocos and Manila that kept them at tip-top shape before the Cesafi beach volleyball tournament.

But despite the exposure in various national tournaments and in the Beach Volleyball Republic league, UV played without complacency against USC.

“Of course we feel pressured also because USC is a good team. We made sure to give our best because we’re the champions and we wanted to win the grand slam,” said Abanto, a fourth-year business administration student.

For Libres, learning the ropes from two of the top collegiate players in Cebu’s beach volleyball was a good start to his Cesafi career in Cebu.

Sibling rivalry

“As a first-year student in the Cesafi, I’m looking forward for my future in this team. I also thank them for being my mentors,” said the marine transportation students Libres.

The UV’s men’s volleyball team capped off the school’s stellar Cesafi season that also saw the men’s basketball team win a three-peat in the men’s basketball tournament.

On the other hand, the University of Southern Philippines-Foundation (USP-F) scored a win when it mattered the most with a straight sets triumph over the Southwestern University (SWU-Phinma), 21-18, 21-15, in the boys’ championship match, avenging its lone loss in the elimination round.

The win gave USP-F its second straight crown and is one title away for the coveted three-peat.

“It’s a great win since we overcame SWU-Phinma in the championship. We lost to them in the elimination,” said the boys’ MVP Ian Kim Jumandos, who plays with teammates Amil Pacinio Jr. and Zander Jude Ybañez.

“We made our plays much faster and also improved the reception,” said the Grade 10 Pacinio when asked on their adjustments against SWU-Phinma.

Interestingly, Pacinio of Sta.Fe, Bantayan had to face his older brother Niño Mhel of SWU-Phinma in the championship match.

“We just told each other to give our very best before the game and wished each other the best of luck. You have to play at your best because there’s no siblings when it comes to the game,” Pacinio said.

The three USP-F players are all in their first year since the players in last year’s champion team have all graduated from high school.

“The key for us is our training program. The coaches have really prepared us for this season not just in practice but also in doing the weights and workouts,” said Jumandos.

In the battle for third, The University of Cebu beat Cebu Institute of Technology-University, 21-13, 21-18 in the men’s division, while USC outlasted University of San Jose-Recoletos, 21-17, 21-23, 15-13, in the boys’ division. (S)