UST enters UAAP Finals, topples La Salle in 5 sets
UST Golden Tigresses. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas finally ended La Salle’s decade-long reign on Sunday night.
And right through the joyous aftermath, it vowed to bring back its own glory days that have been long-time coming.
UST woke-up from its usual mid-game stupor to pull off a hard-fought 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10 triumph and make the finals of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
“When I entered college this year my promise was to bring back the glory days of UST because it’s been a long time,” said UST top rookie Eya Laure after dropping 27 points, including the one that clinched the win.
It’s still a long way to go, but the 20-year-old spiker at least managed to bring the Tigresses closer to their goal.
The Tigresses made the finals for the first time in eight years. They will then face the winner in the other Final Four encounter between Far Eastern University and Ateneo on Wednesday.
The celebration looked like a championship already as UST denied three-time defending champion La Salle a finals appearance for the first time in 11 years which saw the Lady Spikers winning six titles.
“It’s a privilege for us to face defending champion La Salle. These big teams, La Salle, Ateneo and FEU we learned a lot from them,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes.
UST defeated La Salle twice in a row to earn the twice-to-beat incentive it never had to use. But most importantly, it emboldened the Tigresses to chase the title it last won nine years ago.
Some 15,000 spectators inside the MOA Arena and thousands more on TV and internet followed the match.
Big chunk of them UST alumni longing for that golden era in late 80s and early 90s where the Tigresses won seven straight crowns.
“It’s not over yet. We still have one goal. We want to win the title. We owe it to the supporters, alumni who continue to believe in us,” said UST’s captain Sisi Rondina who fired 17 points.
UST gave away 26 points on unforced errors in the third and fourth sets as it got lulled into complacency, something that usually happens this season when it appeared to have the match under control.
“I told my teammates let’s not relax. We don’t want to be complacent,” said Laure.
But that’s exactly what Tigresses did, allowing the Lady Spikers to get back into the match despite holding a 15-11 lead in the third set.
Fortunately, everything clicked for UST in the fifth as it got big points from secondary options like Caitlyn Viray and even setter Alina Bicar.
Viray finished with 10 points, while KC Galdones added 11 for UST.
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