MANILA - Jen ESLAPOR and Floremel Rodriguez faced a taller and world-ranked US duo of Teegan Van Gunst and Kimberly Hildreth and absorbed a 21-15, 21-14 loss in the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge main draw Friday at the world-class Nuvali Sand Courts in Santa Rosa City.
Buoyed by a rousing home crowd, Eslapor and Rodriguez fought toe-to-toe in the early goings of each set but eventually ran out of steam against the fancied American duo ranked No. 80 in the world.
Rodriguez fired 11 points while Eslapor had eight on two aces as the Filipina tandem committed costly errors in the late stretch for a 0-1 record in Pool F of the women’s main draw, composed of six pools, with two games left in their schedule.
Van Gunst stamped her class in firing 22 big points with teammate Hildreth quarterbacking their offense and anchoring their sand defense with 12 digs plus nine points.
USA barged from the 32-team qualifiers on Thursday, finishing in the Top 8 to qualify in the 24-team main draw of the biggest beach volleyball event ever hosted by the country behind the leadership of Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) president Ramon “Tats” Suzara.
Up next for the USA is the powerhouse Swiss pair of Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Mader for the Pool F leadership.
Verge-Depre and Mader, world No. 17, pulled off a close 21-17, 15-21, 15-8 win over world No. 37 Meimei Lin and Jinjin Zeng from China.
Eslapor and Rodriguez, for their part, are to spike for a bounce-back win against Lin and Zeng later Friday to stay in contention for an outright Round of 16 berth.
Also on deck to debut is the duo of Ran Abdilla and Jaron Requinton against world No. 53 Samuel Cattet and Oliver Barthelemy of France in Pool of the men’s division.
Only the Top 2 teams from each Pool will gain automatic tickets to the next round with the two best third-placed teams also qualifying.
The remaining four third-ranked squads then slug it out in a playoff round for the last two seats to complete the Round of 16 of the prestigious world beach tourney supported by gold sponsors Ayala Land, Mikasa, Senoh, Philippine Sports Commission, Pinay In Action and Smart as gold sponsors and PLDT, Gatorade, Maynilad, Rebisco, Ayala Malls, Department of Tourism, CBPI, Club Laiya, Foton as bronze sponsors. PR