UAAP Season 81 Finals: Tigresses move a win away from title

Mark Escarlote on May 11, 2019 05:45 PM
UAAP Season 81 Finals: Tigresses move a win away from title
University of Sto. Tomas inched closer to the crown after sweeping Ateneo de Manila University in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball best-of-three Finals.

University of St. Tomas inched closer to ending an nine-year title drought after stunning Ateneo de Manila University, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, on Saturday in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball best-of-three Finals at the Big Dome.

Season Most Valuable Player Sisi Rondina put on a show in front of a 17,682-strong crowd as she led the Tigresses closer to its first title since winning it all in Season 72 back in 2010. It was the Espana-based squad's first win over the Lady Eagles since the second round of Season 74 or after 15 straight head-to-head losses.

"Una siyempre magandang morale para sa mga bata. Sabi nga sa history medyo matagal ng (di nananalo sa Ateneio) pero di ko na idinidiin kasi ang importante sa amin play at the present kami," said UST coach Kungfu Reyes, who can steer the Tigresses back to the throne with another win on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.   

The graduating hitter Rondina finished with 23 points off 20 attacks, two kill blocks and an ace while adding 12 digs for the Tigresses. Rookie of the Year EJ Laure posted 11 markers while Caitlyn Viray, freshman Ysa Jimenze and setter Alina Bicar combined for 19 points for UST, which outgunned the much taller Ateneo squad, 46-24. 

Bicar tallied 19 excellent sets while Janel Delerio had 12 digs and seven excellent receptions for the Tigresses.   

Rondina exploded in the close third set as UST pulled away from a 21-20 lead to a 24-20 advantage with the graduating hitter scoring back-to-back hits. Ateneo surrendered the game after rookie Erika Raagas sent her attack long.

The Tigresses opened the game like a hungry animal hunting for prey, breaking the frame wide-open as they limited the Lady Eagles to only eight markers made with nine of their 17 points in the first set coming from UST's errors.   

UST playing loose but with the same fire in their eyes punished the Lady Eagles, whose defense was in disarray, in the second set. The Tigresses showed the same aggressiveness it had in the opening set, pouring a barrage of attacks for a 16-7 lead.

Ateneo behind tried to mount a comeback to move within 18-14 after a Maddie Madayag hit.

Laure sparked a 5-1 run for a 23-15 lead. Madayag scored on the next play before Rondina scored a kill to push the Tigresses at 24-16. Rachelle Roldan close the frame with a service ace for a 2-0 UST match lead.      

Kat Tolentino was the only Lady Eagle in double figure with 12 points built on 10 spikes and two kill blocks. Graduating middle blocker Maddie Madayag was limited to only six points while outgoing captain Bea De Leon was limited to only four points fort the Ateneo, which allowed UST to land 10 aces.     



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