TWO beach volleyball teams put Cebu in the pinnacle of the sport as they swept the men’s and women’s title in the Nestea Beach Volleyball National Finals in Boracay last summer.

And for that, the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) and the University of Southern Philippines Foundation (USPF) will be honored in the 28th Sportswriters Association of Cebu-San Miguel Beer Sports Awards on March 11 at the Casino Español de Cebu.

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Going into the national finals, both USJ-R and USPF were only shooting for a top four finish and they had reason to be modest.

They both placed third in the regional elimination and USPF had a rookie, Apple Saraum, teaming up with Erika Verano.

During the first day, it seemed even a fourth-place finish was unreachable.

USJ-R’s Ariel Carumba and Louijie Tipgos lost to the University of the Visayas (UV) in their first game, while USPF dropped its match to the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R).

Making matters worse, Verano twisted her ankle, limiting her movement.

But the two would have their day in the sand.

Both managed to climb their way back into the semis, against the teams that beat them.

USJ-R booted out UV in the semis to move to the finals against the cocky defending champion, Foundation University (FU) while USPF needed only two sets to dispatch UNO-R.

In the finals, the 17-year-old Saraum showed her maturity by staying calm during the tie break to seal the two-set win against the Adamson University, while FU’s power was no much to the finesse of USJ-R.

“At first, I was really pressured but I just tried to stay calm and to perform what I was supposed to do,” Saraum told Sun.Star Cebu after her maiden title.

And for that impressive performance, Saraum and Verano, as well as Tipgos and Carumba, are this year’s SAC-SMB major awardees for beach volleyball.

The four will be joined by Johnrey Sasing, the lone Cebuano in the RP team who will get a citation and the GUV Cup champions Talisay City and Catmon women’s team and the Liloan and Mandaue City men’s teams.