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Foton back in contention; Viray twins shine

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After opening its campaign on a sour note, Foton finally got its groove by posting a 21-10, 21-17 victory over Smart in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup at the Sands By the Bay in Mall of Asia.

Nieza and Jeziela Viray banked on their solid attacks and airtight defense to hammer their second win in two matches and punch a ticket into the quarterfinals of this prestigious summer spectacle bankrolled by PLDT, Sunsilk, Isuzu, Senoh, Mikasa, Maynilad, Petron, SM Malls, Generika Drugstore and UCPB Gen.

Also barging into the win column in the second day of this battle that also has ESPN5 and Aksyon TV as official broadcaster is the F2 Logistics pair of Michelle Morente and Fritz Gallenero, who outmuscled Cocolife B of Marge Tejada and Alex Tan, 21-16, 21-11, in the second match of women’s division.

In the men’s side, Sands By the Bay and Cignal swept their respective pool plays to march into the semifinals.

Bryan Bagunas and James Natividad of Sands By the Bay overcame Joshua Ylaya and JP Pareja, 21-10, 21-13, to top Pool A, while Mike Abria and Jessie Lopez of Cignal blasted Philip Bagalay and Gregory Utopia of Smart, 21-14, 21-16, following their 21-17, 21-18 thrashing of Alsali Pajiji and Relan Taneo of Navy.

But the day belonged to the Viray twins – the reigning beach volleyball queens of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Competing in the PSL for the first time, the twins displayed tremendous composure early to dictate the tempo and throw Ma. Cecilia Bangad and Caitlyn Viray out of their comfort zones.

Jeziela said they struggled in their first match against Cignal B in the opener, prompting them to make some key adjustments that keyed their victory.

“At first, we were struggling. We had trouble jumping and playing on the sands,” said Jeziela following the easy win that booked them a quarterfinal duel against the victor between Generika-Ayala A and Cocolife A.

“But after we made some adjustments, things became a little bit easy.”

She added that the quarterfinals would not be a walk in the park, especially since they are ranged against seasoned competitors like Patty Orendain and Fiola Ceballos of Generika-Ayala A and Danika Gendrauli and Nene Bautista of Cocolife A.

“We will do our best,” she said. “We will play hard and enjoy the match like what we did against Smart.”