UAAP: UST's Xyza Gula is prime example of heart over height

UAAP: UST dynamo Xyza Gula is prime example of heart over height

UST Tigresses' Xyza Gula UAAP volleyball

UST Tigresses’ Xyza Gula. –MARLO CUETO/

There were not a lot of expectations for University of Santo Tomas (UST) prior to the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

The Golden Tigresses were composed of mostly rookies and sophomores with only a third-year libero skipper guiding them. And they were once dubbed “Mini Miss UST” due to their relatively shorter player composition.

But UST had something that most failed to recognize as a big factor—one that would eventually carry the young and gritty Tigresses to where even they did not expect to reach.


READ: UAAP: Xyza Gula proves worth for UST Tigresses this season

“Ever since, we have always said that we wanted to prove that volleyball does not only depend on height: It’s in the heart and in the mind,” Xyza Gula, one of the sophomore hitters of UST, told a pair of reporters before leaving the Mall of Asia Arena after being swept by National University in the Finals last Wednesday.

UST stepped on the court for Game 2 already the underdog, not only because it was already a game down in the series where it facing the more experienced Lady Bulldogs but also because Rookie of the Year Angge Poyos was not at her 100 percent after sustaining an ankle injury in the series-opener.

The Tigresses gave their all in the no-tomorrow contest thanks to Gula taking the initiative to carry the scoring deficit left by Poyos.


“I just thought of playing my game for Poyos and for the UST community who gave great effort falling in line for tickets to be able to support us here,” said Gula, who was all over the court whether for her 16 attacks and two blocks or crucial 10 excellent digs and 11 excellent receptions.

Right time

With the momentum moving to UST’s side after Gula delivered the final blow of the second set that tied the match at 1-1, the 5-foot-4 hitter showed more heroics in the third set that the Tigresses controlled for so long before losing steam when it mattered most—and it was all downhill from there.


“In the end, we are proud of our players,” UST coach KungFu Reyes said in a separate interview. “Especially of Xyza, who stepped up in the absence of Poyos … of Detdet [Pepito] for her leadership of the troops until we reached this far.

READ: UAAP volleyball: Xyza Gula rescues UST Tigresses from near defeat

“To our Best Setter, Cassie [Carballo]. Regardless of the height of our players, they get taller when they go for a kill, meaning our attacks land.”

UST wanted to change how the story went five years ago where its run this season had similarities but they fell short once again. However, the Tigresses can still write a much better story when the right time comes.

With everyone still having a lot of playing years left, no one will be leaving the Tiger’s den and Reyes hopes for only one thing.

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“Hopefully by next [year] we also get to reach the Finals, free of injuries, that’s what we are praying for,” Reyes said. “Next time we will strive for no injuries, especially in the Finals.”


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