MANILA – University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses gained a “twice-to-beat” edge in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Final Four after a 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 victory over De La Salle University Lady Spikers at San Juan Arena.
Cherry Rondina led the way with 29 points, on 25 attacks, two blocks and two service aces on Wednesday. Rookie Ejiya Laure contributed 17 markers.
With the victory, the Golden Tigresses will just need to win again on defending champions Lady Spikers on Sunday to advance to the UAAP finals for the first time since Season 73.
Golden Tigresses surged to a 9-3 lead on early hits from Rondina and Laure. The Lady Spikers was able to come to within 11-15 but UST pulled away anew behind Rondina, Ysa Jimenez and Alina Bicar.
The Lady Spikers gained an early edge in the second frame. However, the Golden Tigresses regained its form and jumped to a 16-8 lead.
DLSU clawed to within 23-24 before UST ended it with a Rondina hit.
After surrendering the third set, the Golden Tigresses struggled early in the fourth before taking a 16-13 lead. Hits from Rondina grew the lead to 20-14 before they thwart DLSU’s run with shots from Laure.
“Malapit na kami doon sa goal namin, wala na kaming reason para hindi bumuhos,” said Golden Tigresses head coach Emilio Reyes. “Kailangan pa namin manalo so hindi pa ito tapos.”
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Jolina dela Cruz top-scored with 12 points while Desiree Cheng and May Luna contributed nine markers apiece for the Lady Spikers./PN