UST Tigresses and the ghosts of Game 2s at Mall of Asia Arena

UAAP: UST Tigresses and the ghosts of Game 2s at Mall of Asia Arena

/ 09:34 PM May 17, 2024

UST Golden Tigresses once again were on the losing end of a UAAP women's volleyball battle at Mall of Asia Arena.

UST Golden Tigresses once again were on the losing end of a UAAP women’s volleyball battle at Mall of Asia Arena. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines—There is a ghost inside the Mall of Asia Arena… and University of Santo Tomas just couldn’t exorcise it.

Back in Season 81, the Golden Tigresses figured in a women’s volleyball Finals affair against Ateneo only to fall short to the eventual champions Lady Eagles.

Five years later, UST saw itself on a collision course with National University in the hopes of doing what it couldn’t do five years prior.

READ: UAAP: All-heart UST Tigresses still proud of silver finish

However, history repeated itself for the Tigresses with the ghosts that haunted them in the past coming back in an almost similar fashion.

When Golden Tigress squared up with the Lady Eagles at MOA Arena on May 16, 2019 for Game 2 of the Finals, a heartbreaking injury struck one of their stars.

Eya Laure, who at the time was on pace to be the season’s Rookie of the Year, fell awkwardly on her ankle and was carried out of the taraflex.

READ: UAAP: NU Lady Bulldogs sweep UST Tigresses to regain volleyball crown


In a valiant effort, Laure returned to the playing field to help close out the Lady Eagles in what could be the title-clinching win.

Unfortunately, the Lady Eagles picked up their momentum with the Game 2 win and Tigresses ultimately fell to the Lady Eagles in three games.


It seems like all those happenstances returned to haunt UST after five years and in the most familiar place.


UST Tigresses' rookie Angge Poyos suffers an injury in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball finals

UST Tigresses’ rookie Angge Poyos suffers an injury in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball finals. –MARLO CUETO/

“Actually, (there are lots of differences between Season 81 and now),” said coach Emilio “Kung Fu” Reyes at the same venue, five years and a day later after fumbling the Season 86 championship at the hands of National University.

“Our players this time are younger. The injury even happened in Game 2, in this one it happened in the first game,” Reyes added.

But while stating facts is easy—things change, people change and seasons change, after all—one can never deny the obvious.

READ: UAAP: History repeats itself even in bad way for UST Tigresses

At the end of the day, there were parallels to the Tigresses of Season 81 and the Tigresses of Season 86 and even Reyes knew that to be true.

“Different people, different scenarios but there was only one outcome. We only got the silver.”

In UST’s surprising run in Season 86, a star rose among the Tigresses in the form of super rookie, Angge Poyos.

READ: Eya Laure gets flashback, turns emotional over Poyos’ injury

From here on out, things got eerily similar.

Poyos, who was the consensus Rookie of the Year for Season 86, helped UST big time in defeating La Salle in the Final Four semifinals–the same way the 2019 Tigresses defeated none other than the Lady Spikers to reach the Final dance.

As if that wasn’t similar enough: Poyos was looked upon to help carry UST in the UAAP Season 86 Finals, much like Laure was during her time.

Then Poyos soared in the second set to give the Tigresses the lead over the vengeful Lady Bulldogs in Game 1 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

UST's Eya Laure being carried by her father Eddie Laure after an injury during the UAAP Finals. –FILE PHOTO

UST’s Eya Laure being carried by her father Eddie Laure and UST coach KungFU Reyes after an injury during the UAAP Season 81 Finals. –FILE PHOTO

And then, history. Bitter, bitter history.

“She (Laure) talked to me earlier before the game,” bared Poyos after Game 2.

“She told me, ‘just fight it, don’t think of the injury’… I can walk my foot now and it was my first time to jump earlier, I can play, I did my best but it just wasn’t enough.”

READ: UAAP: UST Tigresses hopes semblance to 2010 title team leads to championship

Poyos sustained a grade 3 right ankle sprain after tweaking her foot on teammate Em Banagua’s foot upon landing in Game 1. She didn’t return to the court and wore a protective walking boot.

Like Laure’s courageous return to the playing court though, the young star returned in Game 2 to try and even the odds in front of 22,515 spectators.

But Poyos had to do it here, in this place in Pasay, in this series’ second game, in the same situation where UST felt one of its most bitter losses in recent history.

‘Still so young’

UST Tigresses after losing the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Final series to NU Lady Bulldogs.

UST Tigresses after losing the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball Final series to NU Lady Bulldogs. –MARLO CUETO/

But coach KungFu Reyes called it best, though. There was only one outcome.

Like Season 81’s heartbreaking loss that ultimately led to the Ateneo championship, UST’s demise also gave the title to another team–this time to the Lady Bulldogs, who suffered a heartbreak of their own just a year before.

READ: Hungry UST Tigresses make sure youth not wasted on the young

The Golden Tigresses fought. Make no mistakes about it. In fact, after being effectively swept in Game 1, the girls from España managed to stun Bella Belen and company in the second set to win their first ever frame of the series.

That would, however, prove to be the final growl of the Tigresses as NU showed its experience in the biggest stage and left UST in the dust, 25-23, 23-25, 27-25, 25-16.

In the same venue, in a situation with so many parallels, UST could not exorcise its ghost of the past.

The monster that haunted UST for two seasons is still around the MOA Arena, probably still waiting for another time to strike the Tigresses–unless Poyos and the very young Tigresses can do anything about it in the coming years.

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“We may not have been champions now but for sure, next year we’ll try to be better and take that gold medal. We’re still so young and we’ll have so much more experience in the coming years,” Poyos.

TAGS: Angge Poyos, Eya Laure, NU Lady Bulldogs, UAAP Season 86, UST Golden Tigresses

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