Varga, Buytrago assured of silver at FIVB Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures

The Philippines is assured of a silver medal in the FIVB Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures as Rancel Varga and James Buytrago defeated Toms Liepa and Ernests Puskundzis of Latvia, 21-14, 21-16, in the semifinals on Sunday, April 14, at the Nuvali Sand Courts by Ayala Land in the City of Santa Rosa.

Varga and Buytrago overpowered the Latvian team that they also defeated in straight sets in the pool play of the tournament featuring 38 teams from 16 countries.

Rancel Varga and James Buytrago
Rancel Varga and James Buytrago

“But we still considered ourselves the underdogs,” Buytrago said. “It’s an entirely different match, anything can happen so we approach it like any other match.”

Varga, who celebrated his 24th birthday on Saturday when they beat Japan’s Yusuke Ishijima and Kensuke Shoji of Japan in straight sets in the quarterfinals, is glad the sacrifices are paying off for the team.

“We knew the task at hand and we knew we could not waste opportunities like this. We went to bed early, woke up refreshed and ready to play,” said Varga.

The Cebuano duo arranged a title showdown with Krystof Jan Oliva and Vaclav Kurka of the Czech Republic, who beat Turkey’s Hasan Huseyin Mermer and Kurt Sacit, 22-20, 21-17, in the event backed by Smart Communications, Santa Rosa City Mayor Arlene Arcillas, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Senoh, Mikasa, Foton Motor Philippines Inc. and Seda Nuvali.

Varga and Buytrago wrapped up the match in 38 minutes.

Previous University Athletic Association of the Philippines rivals, Varga and Buytrago now add to the Philippines’ recent achievements in beach volleyball.

In the FIVB World Beach Pro Tour Futures Subic in December 2022, the Philippines went 1-2 in the women’s division, with Sisi Rondina and Jovelyn Gonzaga earning the gold by beating Gen Eslapor and Floremel Rodriguez.

Eslapor now competes with Kly Orillaneda, the duo bowing out of pool play in Santa Rosa.

Set to battle for the women’s title are teams from the US and Germany.

Americans Alaina Chacon and Mariah Whalen reached the final with a 21-18, 21-15 victory over Japan’s Riko Tsujimura and Takemi Nishibori.

Germany’s Chenoa Christ and Anna-Lena Grüne defeated New Zealand’s Danielle Quigley and Olivia MacDonald, 21-17, 23-21, in the other semifinal.

The men’s final is set at 6:00 p.m. Sunday after the women’s battle for gold at 5:00 p.m. The bronze medal matches start at 3:00 p.m. Sunday.

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