The UST Golden Tigresses got the assist they needed and made sure that it won’t go to waste.
Coach Kung Fu Reyes’ squad defeated the three-time defending champion De La Salle University Lady Spikers in front of a packed crowd at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. The victory clinched the second seed and twice-to-beat advantage for the Espana crew over their adversaries from Taft.
Deadly 1-2 combo for UST
This performance solidifies Cherry Anne Rondina’s claim to the Most Valuable Player award. She is not leaving anything to chance on her final UAAP year by scoring 25 attacks, two blocks, and two aces. But the Golden Tigresses are hardly a one-woman show as top Rookie of the Year candidate Eya Laure added 17 in the win. Both of them abused the De La Salle net defense even though they knew who will get the most attempts. As a result, UST dominated in attack points, 52-33.
DLSU tasted a dose of their own medicine
The Lady Spikers are usually the stronger team on service. But the Golden Tigresses caught them off-guard by unleashing a strong serve game of their own. That unsettled the often-dependable De La Salle receivers which limited great scoring opportunities. UST tallied 11 service aces, six off Kecelyn Galdones and Ysa Jimenez combined. DLSU was not far off with nine but UST matched them step-by-step on this department.
It takes everyone
UST’s victory was hardly just the Rondina and Laure show. Jimenez showed up to contribute eight points when everyone thought that Dimdim Pacres would get the start. Caitlyn Viray kept the De La Salle blockers guessing to add seven points. Galdones did most of her damage from the service line with three of her four points coming off aces.
Too much pressure for Dela Cruz
There’s no doubt about Jolina Dela Cruz’ talent. But defending against the top two scorers in the league was too much for her. Add to that her 31 attempts and that’s way too many jumping. Rondina and Laure kept on challenging her defense and that could be the reason why they got a number of scores from De La Salle’s zone one.
Lady Spikers meltdown
All can be forgiven if they can beat the Golden Tigresses twice in their Final Four showdown. But that’s not possible with the way things are going. UST found the game plan to neutralize the Lady Spikers and they will keep on using it. It’s now up to Coach Ramil de Jesus to devise adjustments to deal with Rondina and Laure.
Let’s not forget that this could not have happened if only they sealed the deal against the FEU Lady Tamaraws. They were in control for the majority of the match before FEU dominated them in the fifth set, 15-8. It would now take four wins to claim their fourth straight title. But one loss against UST turns their hopes to dust.