UST Golden Tigresses defeats Ateneo Lady Eagles for Finals lead

The UST Golden Tigresses ignited the “Kami Naman” battlecry even more by defeating the Ateneo Lady Eagles in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.

This is UST’s first victory against Ateneo since Season 74. More importantly, it gives the UST the opportunity to clinch the title on Wednesday, May 15, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Golden Tigresses dominate the first two sets

UST surged to an 8-3 lead in the opening set. However, Maddie Madayag’s service ace and Bea de Leon’s kill blocked pulled Ateneo to within three, 9-6.

The Golden Tigresses roared even louder from that point. Coach Kung Fu Reyes’ crew blasted a 7-2 run to stretch their lead to 16-8 going into the second technical timeout.

UST’s margin grew to as big as nine, 19-10, before Ateneo made a mini-run to reduce the distance to five, 21-16. However, the Golden Tigresses scored three unanswered to arrive at set point. Sisi Rondina’s cross court kill ended set one, 25-17.

Rondina and the Golden Tigresses punished the Lady Eagles with 13 attack points and four aces in the opening frame.

In set two, the Espana unit scored the first five points and never looked back. They led as much as nine, 16-7, but Ateneo countered to trim the gap to 18-14.

UST responded with back-to-back combination plays to reach 20 points. The Lady Eagles couldn’t overhaul the margin as Rondina’s down the line hit brought UST to set point while Ysa Jimenez’ ace settled set two at 25-16.

UST closes it in three

Rondina and Alina Bicar allowed UST to pull away a bit from an 8-7 edge. UST still held a five-point cushion, 16-11, when Ateneo started a major run that allowed them to cut the deficit to 21-20.

But an attack error by the Lady Eagles’ Erika Raagas and a hit by Rondina made the tally 23-20. Another successful attack by the UAAP Season 81 Most Valuable Player handed them match point. Raagas’ attack error closed the set and the match, 25-20.

Rondina is named Player of the Game with 20 attacks, two blocks, and an ace. Bicar had 19 excellent sets to go with four spikes and two aces.

Individual and team stats

Eya Laure added 11 points while Caitlyn Viray had seven. Jimenez made six while Kecelyn Galdones tallied five markers.

On the other hand, Kat Tolentino led Ateneo with 12 points while Madayag and Jules Samonte had six apiece. Bea de Leon contributed four while Raagas and Ponggay Gaston had one point each.

UST dominated in attack points, 46-24. They also won the service aces battle, 10-1. Ateneo owned the block battle, 5-2, but had six more errors than UST’s 17.

In the non-scoring stats, Ateneo had two more receptions (19-17). However, UST had the edge in digs (50-44) and sets (19-12).

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