Tigresses fight for survival, force semis sudden death

Mark Escarlote on Apr 22, 2017 07:44 AM
Tigresses fight for survival, force semis sudden death
Can University of Sto. Tomas force a winner-take-all semifinals match?

University of Sto. Tomas waited for half a decade for a sniff of the Final Four atmosphere.

Gone are the days of watching from the sidelines and thinking of the ‘what ifs’. 

Now that they are in, the Tigresses are ready to shoot for an even higher goal.

“Masasabi ko na Final Four material na ang mga bata naming,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes. “Next step naman kami, hindi na kami magse-settle sa Final Four. Mangangarap na kami ng sobra-sobra.”

It was a bold declaration. But much has yet to be proven inside the court.

Especially against an opponent armed with a twice-to-beat advantage and on a mission to retain its crown.

The Tigresses face the defending champion De La Salle University Lady Spikers on Saturday in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the Big Dome.

Game time is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream. 

The Espana-based squad is in for a tough fight against an enemy UST has yet to beat this season.

The Tigresses ended a four-year semis drought with a good run in the second round, winning five of their last seven games to close the elimination round with a 9-5 win-loss record to land at no. 3 spot. 

But UST fell victim to DLSU twice – a 23-25, 25-16, 14-25, 22-25 loss in their first meeting and a 23-25, 22-25, 21-25, defeat last March 29.

Still, Reyes is confident his wards can pull off an upset.

After all, they are hungry for glory after years of disappointments.

“Io-overachieve na namin kung ano ang na-achieve namin ngayon. We came from sixth place last year, ngayon na-doble namin ang paghihirap namin so we have a good result for now,” said Reyes after his team booted out National University for a semis slot last April 8. “Puwede na kami mag-saya doon pero hindi kami nakukuntento, kung ano ang pinaghihirapan namin. Hopefully, magandang motivation sa mga bata. Pag-apak ng Final Four, mas mataas ang morale ng tropa.”

With athletic hitter Cherry Rondina and consistent spiker EJ Laure leading the way with a good support crew of Ria Meneses, Pam Lastimosa, Dimdim Pacres and Christine Francisco, Reyes strongly believes that they can negate DLSU’s semis advantage and force a series decider on Wednesday.   

“Okay naman ang preparation namin for La Salle, may mga bago din kaming ginagawa para matapatan namin ang lakas ng La Salle,” he said. “In good spirits sila, mas determined, focused, ayaw na nilang natatalo ng ganon-ganon lang.”

The only concern of Reyes is that only the graduating Lastimosa has Final Four experience. 

“First time nila (UST players) sa Final Four so malaking occasion, baka ma-overwhelm sa crowd,” he said. “So nagko-concentrate talaga kami sa laro and ‘yun ang mindset namin.”




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