Super rookie Laure leads UST to first finals in 8 seasons

MANILA, Philippines – With momentum firmly on their side, the UST Golden Tigresses did the unthinkable in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball Final Four.

Led by MVP candidate Sisi Rondina, the Tigresses wrote their names on the good side of history after breaking an eight-season finals drought and ending the La Salle Lady Spikers' three-peat title streak in a five-set classic.

UST also snapped La Salle's UAAP volleyball-record 10 straight finals appearances.

But on Sunday, May 5, it was UST's other MVP candidate, super rookie Eya Laure, who hammered home the historic win with 25 points off 21 attacks.

And in their finest hour so far, the 20-year-old bona fide star was just thankful that she had the support of her stellar coaches and teammates in downing the mighty La Salle dynasty.

"Entering this game, in-orient na po kami ni coach na 'yun pa rin, whatever it takes, we got each other's back," Laure said in the post-game presser. "So ready kami para sa adjustments ng La Salle."

(Entering this game, we were oriented by coach of the same thing, that whatever it takes, we got each other’s back. So we were ready for the adjustments of La Salle.)

This was the second match in 5 days between the two teams, the first resulting in an inspired UST squad seizing the twice-to-beat advantage over La Salle.

Their second meeting could have gone either way in the final set, but ultimately, it was Laure who piled on two straight points to seal the deal amid deafening cheers of hungry UST fans.

"In-orient din kami ni Ate Sisi na bukod doon sa pag-orient ni coach, ni-remind niya kami na walang iwanan, no pressure kasi wala namang mawawala sa 'min and laruin lang natin 'yung nilalaro natin kasi andiyan naman tayo para sa isa't isa," Laure continued.

(Sisi also oriented and reminded us that we'll stick together without pressure because we don't have anything to lose. We just need to play our game because we're here for one another.)

Indeed, Rondina's words of wisdom paid off for Laure and her 7 other rookie teammates as UST regrouped nicely after two error-filled sets they gave up to La Salle.

As the Tigresses head to the UAAP Season 81 finals yet without an opponent, Laure – injured left knee and all – can take a short breather before buckling down for the title hunt.

"Papaano kung be-babyhin ko itong nararamdaman ko, ano ang parang naitulong ko sa kanila?" she mused. "Doon na lang ako sa side na ilaban ko na 'to kaysa naman na lumaban sila na nakikita ko sila na sila lang ang lumalaban."

(What if I babied what I'm feeling, what help would that be to them? I just fought through the pain instead of letting my teammates take on the battle without me.)

"Siyempre ko gusto ko na nakikita ko sila na kasama ako na lumalaban para sa UST," she added.

(Of course, I want to see them with me fighting for UST.) –