UAAP Season 81 Finals: Tigresses keep heads held up high

Mark Escarlote on May 18, 2019 10:11 PM
UAAP Season 81 Finals: Tigresses keep heads held up high
We’re very proud kasi nandyan na ang community ng UST -- UST coach Kungfu Reyes

They say, conquerors write history.

But in this UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals series, the conquered University of Sto. Tomas left an indelible mark by inspiring a community to believe.

The Tigresses may have come short of ending a nine-year wait for the title, but the fight and grit shown by the young Espana-based squad behind graduating hitter Sisi Rondina and Rookie of the Year Eya Laure were enough to bring the UST faithful together.      

“We’re very proud kasi nandyan na ang community ng UST. Nagbabalikan na sila so ito na pala ang team namin ulit,” said Tigresses coach Kungfu Reyes after UST bowed down to Ateneo de Manila University, 17-25, 22-25, 22-25, in the series decider of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals on Saturday at the MOA Arena.

UST’s impressive run came after languishing in seventh place last season – a disappointing four-win campaign that saw the Tigresses suffer its worst record in the Final Four era.  

“Dati naman wala kami rito. May 1 pa lang bakasyon na kami. Pero ngayon third week ng May naglalaro pa rin tayo,” said Reyes. “’Yun ang magandang naidulot though hindi namin natapos on a high note pero thankful pa rin kami na nandito kami sa Finals.”

The Tigresses had a good run as they battled their way back into the Final Four despite losing Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini to a left knee injury just four games into the season.

UST even got a chance to arm itself with a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage when they defeated De La Salle University in the playoff for a semis incentive before dragging the Lady Spikers off the throne after a three-year reign.

For the first time in 16 meetings since Season 74, the Tigresses defeated Ateneo in the Finals series opener in straight sets.

But the Lady Eagles, who were removed from the Finals last year after six straight championship stints, had enough experience and composure against the rookie-laden Tigresses. It didn’t help that Laure sustained a left ankle sprain in Game 2 that obviously diminished her explosiveness.    

“Ang problema nito masyado kaming bata para sa kalaban namin. Mayroon kaming Sisi pero they have Maddie (Madayag), Kat (Tolentino), mga may championship experience na rin,” Reyes admitted. “Sa amin beautiful kasi would you imagine ilang rookies ang naglalaro sa amin sa loob.”

Reyes and the Tigresses accepted their defeat with no regrets.

What they learned this season will arm them better for next year’s war.

“’Yun ang magandang problema sa amin na next year yung mga naka-experience ng Finals siguro madadala namin yung great learning experience namin this season, na no one expected na kami ang kami ang aabot ng Finals,” said Reyes. “Aayaw pa ba kami nun kasi dati nga nasa seventh place kami, sa sixth place, hanggang third. Pero sa pagpupursige ni Sisi umabot kami ng Finals.”

UST fell today.

But tomorrow the Tigresses will rise once again.



Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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