UAAP Season 81: Tigresses claw Lady Spikers for twice-to-beat advantage
Mark Escarlote on May 01, 2019 05:48 PM
University of Sto. Tomas secured the last twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four after beating three-time champion De La Salle University in a playoff.
University of Sto. Tomas head coach Kungfu Reyes said they are ready to face three-time defending champion De La University with or without a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four after the Tigresses closed the elimination of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
But when the golden chance came for the Tigresses to steal the semifinals incentive, UST grabbed the opportunity to move a win away from a return stint to the championship round for the first time in nine years.
The Tigresses demolished the Lady Spikers in the playoff for the no. 2 spot and semis incentive with an emphatic, 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 victory on Wednesday at the jam-packed FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Graduating hitter Sisi Rondina and rookie Eya Laure caught fire early while the rest of the Tigresses followed suit, playing their roles well to arm UST with a semis advantage for the first time since its runner-up finish in Season 73 behind DLSU. The two teams battled for the twice-to-beat bonus after closing the elims tied at 10-4 win-loss slates.
Rondina had 29 points off 25 attacks, two kill blocks, and two aces for the Espana-based squad. Laure chipped in 17 markers while freshman Ysa Jimenez and Caitlyn Viray got eight and seven markers, respectively for UST.
“Maganda ‘yung experience na sa sobrang tagal ng panahon ganoon pala ang experience ng may playoff. Masarap na yung pakiramdam na naglalaro ka pero mas masarap kung nanalo ka doon sa game. Luckily kami ang nanalo. Another history para sa amin,” said Reyes, whose squad fell to twice-to-beat DLSU in the Tigresses last semis stint in Season 79.
The Final Four match between UST and DLSU is on Sunday, with the Lady Spikers marching in the semis with a twice-to-win disadvantage for the first time in 11 years. No. 1 seed Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University, which defeated the Lady Spikers at the end of elims that forced a playoff, semis match is on Saturday.
UST broke a 12-12 deadlock in the fourth set with a telling run that saw Rondina send missile after missile for a 19-13 advantage. The Lady Spikers tried to make a comeback after cutting their deficit to 18-22 but a service error by rookie Jolina Dela Cruz followed by a Rondina ace gave the Tigresses the match point advantage.
Lourdes Clemente saved a match point before Laure's game-clinching kill.
The Lady Spikers squandered an early 6-1 lead in the third set as the Tigresses fought back to take a 23-22 lead after an overreaching call on DLSU middle Des Clemente. The transferee from University of Perpetual Help made amend on her error with a kill to tie the frame before Aduke Ogunsanya hammered an attack followed by a Laure mishit as DLSU stole the set.
The Tigresses blasted 10 straight points to turn a 7-5 deficit in the second set to a 15-7 lead capped by a Rondina backrow hit. DLSU answered with a run of its own to cut its deficit to 15-17.
Laure pounded back-to-back hits to put the Tigresses at set point, 24-18, before the Lady Spikers saved five set points capped by a May Luna service ace before Laure put the frame away with a crosscourt hit.
UST waxed-hot early in the game, building a comfortable lead in the first frame before cruising to take the set.
Rookie Jolina dela Cruz got 12 points as the only Lady Spiker in double figures while Des Cheng and May Luna finished with nine markers each.
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