Tigresses end four-year Final Four drought in emotional win

Mark Escarlote on Apr 08, 2017 03:19 PM
Tigresses end four-year Final Four drought in emotional win
University of Sto. Tomas snapped a four-year Final Four drought.

University of Sto. Tomas shook off a rusty start and clawed its way back from two sets down to end a four-year Final Four drought. 

The Tigresses marched back in the semifinals after showing the feisty National University the exit door Saturday in a five-set 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12, victory in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Big Dome.

Sisi Rondina, Ria Meneses, EJ Laure and seldom-used Christine Francisco embraced their roles as heroes for the black and gold. 

The Espana-based squad closed the elimination round with 9-5 win-loss record to occupy the no. 3 seed and sent the Lady Bulldogs packing for the second straight year on the same day that NU head coach Roger Gorayeb celebrated his birthday.  

Rondina scored all of her 22 points from attacks including the kill that put UST at matchpoint. Laure had an all-around performance with 22 markers and added 19 digs and eight excellent receptions. 

Francisco finished with 11 points while Ria Meneses got 10 for UST, which smashed 62 attack points anchored on Alex Cabanos' 37 excellent sets.

Archrivals defending champion De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila are still playing as of posting time to determine which squad will occupy the no. 1 seed. The loser will face UST while the winner will square off with no. 4 squad Far Eastern University in the semis.

After surrendering the first two frames, UST regrouped just in time to turn the tables around.

The Tigresses broke free from a tight start in the fifth set and built a 10-7 gap. NU’s 6-foot-5 ace hitter Jaja Santiago committed an error, crossing the line when she landed after an attack followed by a huge kill by Rondina.

UST got a scare when NU chopped its deficit to 11-12 but Santiago was called with an overreaching violation in the next play. Santiago scored on a kill block but Rondina answered with a sharp attack to put UST at match points, 14-12.

Dimdim Pacres smashed the match-clinching kill as the emotional UST supporters were left in tears with the Tigresses return in the Final Four.          

The Lady Bulldog showed resiliency and composure in the fourth set with a telling rally that dissolved their 8-16 deficit. Roselyn Doria tied the frame at 18 for NU with a sharp service ace. The set turned into a seesaw battle before the Tigresses broke a 21-21 deadlock with two straight points that forced the Lady Bulldogs to call time.

Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas threw NU’s chance to close the match by sending consecutive attacks long.          

The Lady Bulldogs missed the Final Four for the second straight year and ended another disappointing campaign with a 7-7 slate – the same record they had last year. 

The fourth year middle Santiago scored 30 markers including 25 off kills while Singh and Urdas registered 13 and 11 points, respectively.





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