University of Santo Tomas banked on its young guns to outlast University of the Philippines in an exciting five-set marathon, 27-25, 26-28, 25-18, 22-25, 17-15, to advance to the semifinals of the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum late Sunday.
The Tigresses completed an all-UAAP Final Four cast along with unbeaten National University, Adamson University, and De La Salle University. UST set up an exciting semis showdown against the reigning UAAP champions Lady Bulldogs that have yet to drop a game after six matches.
The knockout semifinals of the tournament organized by Athletic Events and Sports Management, Inc. (ACES) is scheduled on Friday, November 11, while the winner-take-all championship is on November 19.
Earlier, NU booked the first semis ticket after sweeping Far Eastern University, 25-10, 25-17, 25-15; Adamson booted out University of Perpetual Help, 25-14, 25-16, 25-16; while La Salle decimated Ateneo de Manila University, 25-17, 25-23, 25-10, to take the first three semis seats.
UST freshmen Xyza Gula and Regina Jurado stepped up in the absence of veteran, Eya Laure, to deliver 20 points apiece.
The duo delivered the back-to-back hits that wrapped up the grueling two-hour, 50-minute encounter.
“We just held on, did our best and refused to give up,” said Gula, who pounded 17 attack points including the down the line kill that pushed UST to its third matchpoint advantage.
“We just want to prove that we’re not just rookies but super rookies. That we won’t back down from any challenge,” she added.
Angeli Abellana put the Tigresses at first matchpoint advantage, 14-12, but a catch-and-throw violation of UST in the next play followed by a kill block by Fighting Maroon Ethan Arce on Gula forced a deuce.
Gula answered with a down the line hit but UP captain Jewel Encarnacion knotted the score at 15 with a through the block smash.
Gula again hammered a kill from the left side before Jurado nailed the piercing crosscourt hit from the right corner for the finishing blow.
Abellana posted 16 points while Athena Abbu had 10 markers for the Tigresses.
Alyssa Bertolano led the UP with 18 points including 14 attacks, Joan Monares had 14 markers while Encarnacion finished with 10.
The Fighting Maroons slid to the classification round joining Perpetual, Ateneo, and FEU.