What if the Tigresses fielded a complete, healthy lineup in Season 81 Finals?
Mark Escarlote on May 06, 2020 04:08 PM
(Photo: Arvin Lim)
University of Sto. Tomas came close to ending a nine-year title drought in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
The Tigresses dominated Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three Season 81 Finals series opener in straight sets – their first win over the Lady Eagles after 15 straight head-to-head losses.
It was a shocker. UST gave the veteran-laden and battle-tested Ateneo squad a 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, drubbing.
In Game 2, UST started off on a wrong foot but was quick to recover in a lopsided second set win.
Then, rookie Eya Laure suffered a left ankle sprain.
Although the Season 81 Rookie of the Year returned to finish the game, Laure already lost the same explosiveness she had as the Tigresses yielded the match in four sets.
Ateneo finished off UST in straight sets in the series decider for their third title overall.
But the question remains for the UST faithful: What if the Tigresses had a healthy roster in the Finals series?
Before its fateful Game 2 loss, UST was on a seven-game winning streak. The Tigresses were able to pull off an amazing run despite missing sophomore Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini to a knee injury that abruptly ended her season.
Players like KC Galdones, Caitlin Viray and Ysa Jimenez stepped up to help Rondina and Laure on offense with Alessandrini sidelined.
Against Ateneo, which returned to the Finals after falling short of a seventh straight championship stint in Season 80, in the two schools' first-ever title showdown the Tigresses needed the presence of Alessandrini.
The Season 80 RoY averaged 15.6 points per game before going down with a torn partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and grade 3 sprain of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in the second set of UST’s elimination round clash with Far Eastern University.
Alessandrini would’ve given UST an extra scoring option aside from Rondina and Laure.
At 6-foot-2, Alessandrini would’ve also been a great help at the net and would've posted as a challenge to Ateneo’s imposing middles in Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag.
Another big what if for UST: What if Laure didn’t accidentally land on Kat Tolentino’s foot at the start of the third set in Game 2?
In Game 1, Laure finished with 11 points.
She had 10 markers in Game 2, but had to bleed for points in the last two sets while playing through pain.
Laure also had 10 markers in the series decider, but she was obviously not playing on the same level that she had during the Tigresses' seven-game win streak.
Of course, the Season 81 Finals turned out to be a thrilling and memorable one even with UST bitten by the injury bug.
But again, what if the Tigresses came in healthy and in full force?
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