UST dusts off Ateneo, looks to maintain menacing form to end first round
They are hoping to flash the same killer mentality when they face a lowly opponent on Friday.
“As I’ve said, all teams are competitive,” UST coach Kungfu Reyes said after the Tigresses swept aside the Blue Eagles, 25-19, 25-23, 25-14, in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament at Filoil EcoOil Arena. “[There are teams that] just couldn’t close out a game with a win.”
UST’s fourth win in six games set the team up for a chance to end the first round on a high note. But the Tigresses don’t want to be caught with their guard down against winless University of the East (UE).
“You cannot fool around with UE,’’ said Reyes.
The Lady Red Warriors showed why. They fought stubbornly and dragged Far Eastern University to a fifth set before finally yielding, 25-19, 18-25, 25-12, 22-25, 15-5, in the other match.
UST will need to be as sharp as it was in dealing Ateneo a fourth straight loss in a 1-5 (win-loss) record.
“We want to finish the first round on a high note. At least, the morale of the team will be high at the start of the second round,’’ said Reyes, noting that they will continue working on their lapses, specifically the ones they encounter in the middle.
Second straight victory
Regina Jurado seized her moment in the limelight by aggressively attacking the net, unloading 12 attacks out of a game-high 15 points plus three aces, all in the final set where the Tigresses devoured their prey with an 11-2 windup.
“We were able to execute fluidly with our movements. We didn’t commit any service errors and it feels great,’’ said Reyes.
Eya Laure found relief with Jurado’s heroics and unloaded 10 points and 12 digs while rookie Cassie Carballo had 16 excellent sets for the Tigresses, who registered a second straight victory.
“We make sure to learn a thing or two every time we come from a loss. We had the right mindset coming into this game and that took us to victory,’’ said Laure.
The Tigresses lost the season opener against La Salle but scored the upset of the season when they halted the seasons-spanning win run of defending champion National University. But instead of roaring on, UST stumbled in a three-set letdown against Adamson before getting this current run started.
Vanessa Gandler led Ateneo with 13 points while Faith Nisperos and Lyann de Guzman added 11 points each as the Blue Eagles committed 25 errors to go on their worst start in the Final Four era or since a similar 1-4 record 13 years ago back in Season 73.
Laure was on assault mode right at the beginning, her assortment of smashes punishing Ateneo’s back row defense. After UST held on to take the first two sets, Jurado took over in the third, jump-starting a fiery run for a 17-13 advantage before her twin aces created an eight-point cushion.
“With Reg (Jurado), we can just take care of our defense while she makes those attacks,’’ Laure said after UST continued to draw a big game from the rising rookie opposite spiker.
“There are learnings along the way as the season progresses. I’ll do my best to live up to these expectations,’’ Jurado said.