Tigresses, Lady Spikers pull off hard-earned wins
University of Santo Tomas is off to an impressive start after outlasting Adamson, 25-21, 25-21, 24-26, 24-26, 15-6, in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Tigresses erected an early 5-0 lead after Lady Falcon Eli Soyud touched the net, padding the lead to 13-4 with a service ace by Eya Laure.
Milena Alessandrini finished off the match with UST’s final two points, including the game-clinching one with a block on Bernadette Flora.
In the nightcap, La Salle kicked off its four-peat bid by bringing down archrival Ateneo, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19.
La Salle is aiming to become the first team since UST, which won seven straight from 1985 to 1991, to win four consecutive titles.
The Golden Tigresses finished at 4-10 in the previous season despite Cherry Rondina and then-rookie Alessandrini’s stellar efforts.
Rondina scored a total of 296 points, the best mark in the league, to become the Best Scorer while Alessandrini had 105 points en route to clinching Rookie of the Year honors.
UST coach Kung Fu Reyes was proud of how his younger stars supported Rondina.
“This was a test of character and this really is the team we’ve been searching for a long time,” said Reyes in Filipino. “Before, Sisi would score 30 points and we’d still lose.”
Laure and Rondina both had 17 points to lead all UST scorers while Alessandrini added 15 points.
“My load certainly got lighter because I don’t have to tell my teammates what to do because they’ll just do their job without being told to do so,” said Rondina.
Flora led the Lady Falcons with 14 points while Soyud and Chiara Permentilla had 13 and 12 points, respectively.
It was a reversal in the men’s side as Adamson outlasted UST, 33-31, 23-25, 16-25, 25-15, 16-14, while Ateneo dismantled La Salle, 25-23, 25-22, 25-15.
Tony Koyfmann had 15 points to lead the Blue Eagles while Chumason Njigha and Ishmael Rivera added 10 points apiece for the Season 80 runners-up.
Ateneo head coach Timothy Sto. Tomas said he was surprised that they were able to pull off a sweep against the Green Spikers since the Blue Eagles are on a rebuild after the departure of setter Ish Polvorosa and Marck Espejo due to graduation.
“This is definitely a morale-booster because people are saying that now that we don’t have Marck or Ish anymore, we won’t have any more scorers,” said Sto. Tomas.
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