The UST Golden Tigresses delivered on their “Kami Naman” mantra by defeating the De La Salle Lady Spikers in five sets at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The victory clinched UST’s first UAAP women’s volleyball Finals berth since Season 73. Meanwhile, the Lady Spikers will not play for the championship for the first time since Season 71.
Golden Tigresses dominate tail end of set one
Aduke Ogunsanya’s middle attacks helped De La Salle race to a 4-1 lead. But attacks by Eya Laure and Cherry Anne Rondina allowed UST to trim the deficit to one, 5-4. The Espana crew kept the game close until a 7-7 deadlock but took an 8-7 advantage after a Rondina service ace.
De La Salle’s middle attack and hitting from Dela Cruz kept the tally close. However, the Golden Tigresses created separation with a four-point advantage, 16-12, with a quick strike from Ysa Jimenez from a DLSU overreception. The Lady Spikers came to within two, 17-15, after a Tin Tiamzon kill block on Rondina but that was all the Lady Spikers wrote for the opening set.
Caitlyn Viray’s service ace brough the Golden Tigresses at set point but Coach Ramil De Jesus’ squad saved two points to bring the tally at 24-19. Kecelyn Galdones lucky strike hit the tape of the net before landing to close the set at 25-19. The Lady Spikers had nine unforced errors in the set while UST only had six.
UST comes back to take second chapter
Errors by UST allowed De La Salle to take an 8-5 margin going to the first technical timeout. But miscues by the Lady Spikers gave UST the path to level the count at nine apiece. Both teams traded points until 12-12 wherein the Golden Tigresses sparked a quick 4-1 to claim a 16-13 advantage. Coach Kung Fu Reyes’ crew stretched the lead to 20-14 before De La Salle scored four unanswered points to cut the deficit to two, 20-18.
However, UST responded with a 5-1 rally to take their second straight set. Jimenez’ off-speed shot was not dug by CJ Saga for set point while Laure’s down the line hit ended set two at 25-19. The Golden Tigresses had the advantage in attack points (13-9) while committing three less errors than De La Salle’s nine.
Lady Spikers take one set back
The Golden Tigresses were poised to take a straight-sets victory with a 15-11 edge. But the Lady Spikers refused go down without a fight. A 9-1 De La Salle run gave them the upper hand at 20-16. Laure converted an attack to stop the bleeding but May Luna connected on two straight points to stretch their lead to five, 22-17.
UST responded with two straight points before De La Salle scored two of their own to arrive at set point. Laure’s attack that went through the De La Salle blockers trimmed the deficit to four while a net touch infraction by UST ended the chapter for DLSU, 25-20. UST’s 11-5 edge in attacks was negated by their 13 unforced errors. The Lady Spikers also had five kill blocks while UST only had two.
De La Salle forces fifth set
The Lady Spikers held an 11-8 edge before UST made a 3-0 run to level the count. The set remained close De La Salle held a three point advantage, 20-17. Caitlyn Viray’s service error handed DLSU set point but Laure scored two point to pull her squad to within one, 24-23. However, Galdones’ net touch error brought the game to a fifth set, 25-23.
Much like set three, the Golden Tigresses shot themselves in the foot with 13 errors. That negated their 12-6 lead in attack points.
Welcome to the finals, Espana
May Luna’s attack error gave the Golden Tigresses an 8-5 advantage going into the changeover. UST stretched the advantage to 10-5 before De La Salle made three straight points to narrow the margin to two, 10-8. Ogunsanya’s strike pulled DLSU to 11-10 but Bicar’s strike from an overreception stretched the lead to two, 12-10.
Laure’s 24th point went through the blockers to bring them to match point while her succeeding attack ended the set and the match at 15-10. The UST rookie is named player of the game. Rondina added 14 attacks, two aces, and a block. The UST Golden Tigresses will face the winner of the Ateneo Lady Eagles-FEU Lady Tamaraws rubber match on Wednesday, May 8.