ON THIS DAY: Tigresses end 8-year Finals stint wait

Mark Escarlote on May 05, 2020 02:33 PM
ON THIS DAY: Tigresses end 8-year Finals stint wait
(Photo: Arvin Lim)

The packed Mall of Asia Arena rocked as University of Sto. Tomas rookie Eya Laure hammered the final blow that toppled the three-year dynasty of De La Salle University.    

Supporters of the Tigresses went wild as the referees blew the final whistle signaling the end of the Espana-based squad’s eight long years of waiting to step back into the championship round.

Exactly a year ago, UST booked a trip to the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.   

The duel went the full five sets with the Tigresses walking away with a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, victory behind the duo of Laure and then graduating Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina.

That match gave fans a feel of the classic rivalry between the two proud schools.

Prior to their Final Four meeting, the Lady Spikers and Tigresses squared off four days before to dispute the twice-to-beat advantage after finishing the elimination round tied at 10-4.     

UST defeated DLSU in four sets in the playoff behind Rondina’s 29-point explosion.   

The Tigresses, who were looking to avenge their Season 77 semis defeat at the hands of DLSU, came into Final Four riding the crest of their five-game winning streak. The Lady Spikers, on the other hand, were on a two-game slump which started with their stinging five-set loss to Far Eastern University to close the elimination round that dragged DLSU into a playoff for the no. 2 spot in the semis.

UST was brimming with confidence in the Final Four match.

Laure and Rondina found their mark early, punishing the Lady Spikers defense with their missiles while Caitlin Viray and KC Galdones kept DLSU attackers at bay with great net defense.

The first two sets were easy picking for UST.

Then the Lady Spikers fought back.

DLSU forced a deciding set after pulling away from a close 18-17 lead to a 23-19 advantage capped by a Des Cheng crosscourt hit. Viray scored back-to-back points for UST to trim down its deficit to 23-21 but committed a service error in the next play.

Laure saved two set points but the Tigresses were whistled for a net touch to end the fourth set. The Lady Spikers took advantage of UST’s 13 errors in the third set to escape a sweep.

DLSU came back from a 11-15 down in the third frame with six unanswered points for a 17-15 advantage. The Lady Spikers widened their cushion to 24-19, Laure saved a set point before Cheng sealed the frame to set up a mad dash to the finish.

In the final set, the Tigresses raced to a 10-5 lead before DLSU made a final push to cut its deficit to 11-10 off an Aduke Ogunsanya attack after an overreception by UST.

Tigresses setter Alin Bicar scored a kill on the next play followed by a service ace before Laure's back-to-back hits to send UST back in the Finals for the first time since Season 73 when the Espana-based squad finished as bridesmaid to the Lady Spikers.

UST ended DLSU’s 10-year Finals run and denied the Lady Spikers a four-peat for the third time in two decades.

The Tigresses challenged Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals. UST won the series opener, but came up short in the next two games as the Lady Eagles claimed their third title overall.

 

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