UST Tigresses: Confident in hunt for glory
Mark Escarlote on Jan 29, 2017 11:06 AM
Are the University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses ripe enough to bring back their lost glory?
Years have passed and the University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses are still in search of the killer’s instinct and fierceness that brought them success in the UAAP.
Save for returning Pam Lastimosa, no other player in the current Tigresses roster has ever set foot at least in the Final Four in the collegiate level.
It's a goal that UST is looking to accomplish in UAAP Season 79 to end a five-year semis drought.
The Espana-based squad closed their previous campaign at sixth spot, a level lower than their finish in Season 79.
But with an almost intact lineup and new rising stars, UST is considered to be a top contender this year especially after undergoing extensive training and build up for the season. They are even in the radar to vie for the crown the Tigresses last held back in Season 72 during the time of now Adamson assistant coach Angeli Tabaquero and Aiza Maizo-Pontillas.
Power-hitting Cherry Rondina, who is taking the role as team captain, and Season 77 Rookie of the Year EJ Laure are back to power UST while Lastimosa will return to action to add stability and leadership inside the court – one thing the Tigresses missed last year when the former team captain had to skip the season due to a knee injury.
“Super excited and a bit nervous siguro,” said the graduating Lastimosa. “It’s my last playing year and we should do good this year.”
Other holdovers Ria Meneses, Chlodia Cortez, Alexine Cabanos and rising star Carla Sandoval are all expected to shine this year to fill in the void left by the departure of Mela Tunay and Jessey De Leon.
UST hopes to ride the momentum of its UniGames conquest and decent finishes in a couple of V-League tournaments and apply the lessons the Tigresses learned in their Thailand training camp.
“Compared last year mas grabe ang inihanda namin this year kasi marami ang nagsasabi na may potential nga raw ang team this year for the Final Four,” Lastimosa added. “’Yung V-League stint namin was really good, nag-fourth place finish kami sa Reinforced Conference. Nakakadagdag ‘yun sa confidence ng team and nakita namin ‘yung improvement na nangyari and kung ano ang dapat naming i-improve this coming UAAP.”
Individually, the Tigresses has enough firepower to outgun the opposition.
Rondina and Laure played for Foton in the Philippine Superliga helping the team win the Grand Prix crown and a runner up finish in All-Filipino Conference. But the biggest exposure for the two were a stint in the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship where they showed great improvement in their game as they faced the powerhouse club teams in Asia.
Cortez and Menese also saw action in the PSL while the team showed much potential in the V-League.
These things gave the Tigresses the confidence to do better this time that Rondina even revealed their ambitious goal.
“For me naman po, we really want na makabalik sa Finals,” declared Rondina, who gave UST a beach volleyball title – her second in three years.
“Siyempre, kung gusto niyo malaman ang goal namin talaga, 'yun po talaga,” she added. “Siyempre, maganda na rin po ang makapasok sa Final Four, pero mas maganda po ‘pag Finals. Tatrabahuhin namin. Hindi po kami mag-iiwan ng salita, basta trabaho, trabaho lang talaga.”
Rondina and UST will be tested on February 4 against Season 78 runner up Ateneo de Manila University.
Catch the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament starting February 4, Saturday live on S+A, S+A HD channel 166 and via livestream.
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