MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – University of Santo Tomas (UST) clinched at least a playoff berth but also dimmed the Final Four hopes of preseason favorite University of the Philippines (UP) in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament.
UST's straight-set win, 25-21, 25-12, 26-24, pushed UP to the brink of elimination on Wednesday, April 10, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
With UST and FEU sporting identical 8-4 records, both teams nailed spots in the playoffs as the Lady Maroons remained outside the top 4 with a 6-6 slate.
The latest defeat put the Diliman-based squad just another loss away from getting booted out of the Final Four race. UP will need to survive its upcoming game against the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs – who stunned them in the first round – on Sunday, April 14.
Sisi Rondina powered the Golden Tigresses with 20 points off 17 attacks, 2 aces and 1 block to go with 15 excellent digs and 8 excellent receptions.
UST head coach Emilio "Kung Fu" Reyes said he’s proud how much the Tigresses have turned into a competitive crew.
"Alam nila ang gagalawin sana pagdating sa dulo, napakagandang indication na nag-iisip na, nararamdam nila ang laro na totally nagkakacompete," said Reyes. “Magandang panalo para sa amin kasi dumidikit na kami sa 1-2-3-4 with FEU, so kailangan any moment kasi pwede magpalitan ng momentum.”
(They know what to do in the end-game. It's a good indication that they're thinking, they're totally competing. It's a good win for us because we're in the top 4 mix with FEU, so we have to sustain it because momentum can change at any moment.)
Marian Buitre led the Lady Maroons with 16 points in the losing effort.
UP had the lead early in the opening frame, but the Golden Tigresses blasted a massive 10-3 run that sparked their momentum throughout the game.
UST did not let up at all in the 2nd set as Dimdim Pacres and Kecelyn Galdones – who fired 3 aces in the set – powered the Golden Tigresses to a quick 2-0 advantage in the match.
The Lady Maroons kept their hopes alive in the 3rd set as they managed to hold the lead until the second technical timeout, 16-14. The Golden Tigresses, however, rallied back with a 5-1 run to take the edge, 19-17.
Marian Buitre lifted UP to a 23-20 lead, but amid the Tigresses' comeback attempt, it was her error that extended the set.
An overreaching violation by Jessma Ramos and a block by Eya Laure sealed UST’s playoff berth. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.