UAAP: UST downs La Salle in thriller, advances to finals

UAAP: UST downs La Salle in thriller, advances to finals

UAAP: UST downs La Salle in thriller, advances to finals
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For the first time since 2011, the UST Golden Tigresses will play for the women's volleyball championship after a stunning five-set triumph over defending champion De La Salle University on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Behind a superb performance from rookie star Eya Laure, the Golden Tigresses weathered a brave La Salle fightback for a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10 triumph in their UAAP Season 81 Final 4 showdown.

It was UST's second straight victory over the Lady Spikers, as they had downed the defending champions in four sets just last Wednesday to claim the No. 2 seed in the Final 4 -- and with it, the twice-to-beat advantage.

As it turned out, the Tigresses made sure they did not need to use it: they dispatched the Lady Spikers in their first opportunity to advance to the UAAP women's volleyball finals for the first time since Season 73. Laure unloaded a career-high 25 points, including the last two for the Golden Tigresses, while skipper Sisi Rondina contributed 17 markers. The two got help from Kacey Galdones (11 points) and Caitlyn Virya (10), and UST peppered the Lady Spikers with 53 kills.

It was a stunning defeat for the Lady Spikers, who ended their campaign in UAAP Season 81 with three straight losses. This is the first time since Season 70 that La Salle will not play for the championship, ending an incredible streak of 10 consecutive finals appearances. The Lady Spikers also failed in their bid for a four-peat. 

The Golden Tigresses, brimming with confidence, surged to a two-set lead to put the defending champion on the ropes. They clung to a 21-19 lead in Set 2, but got a break when La Salle committed back-to-back errors -- first, a poor serve by Des Clemente, and then a bad set by Mars Alba. An offspeed hit by Ysa Jimenez put them at set point, and a massive down-the-line hit by Laure put the Tigresses on the brink of the finals.

The Golden Tigresses refused to let La Salle's fightback phase them. They took a 10-5 lead in the fifth set, pouncing on the Lady Spikers' errors. But miscues by UST -- along with clutch plays by Ipac -- allowed the Lady Spikers to make a rally. Ipac's block of Laure, and a hit by Aduke Ogunsanya made it a 1-point game, 11-10.

But the Tigresses would not be denied. Setter Alina Bicar came up with a clutch hit off a broken play, Tin Tiamzon committed a massive error in trying to send a free ball, and Laure came up with two massive kills in the final two rallies of the match to send UST to the finals for the first time in eight years. The Golden Tigresses will play the winner of the other semi-finals match-up between Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University. 

Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball finals is on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.

ABS-CBN Sports website.

 

 

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