UST Tigresses out to make most of return to Final Four after four-year absence
Spikers EJ Laure and Kim Dy face off as La Salle welcomes UST back to the Final Four after an absence of four years. Jerome Ascano

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Kungfu Reyes hopes the Tigresses won’t get overwhelmed in their return to the Final Four after a four-year absence when they face La Salle in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament semifinals on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Game time is at 4:00 p.m.

The Tigresses will be up against the defending champions, who are armed with a twice-to-beat advantage after claiming the No. 2 spot.

“First time nila (players) sa Final Four so malaking occasion, baka ma-overwhelm sa crowd,” said Reyes.

UST clinched the No. 3 spot after a thrilling five-setter win over National University on April 8.

At the start of the season, the 36-year old UST mentor bared that their goal was to make it to the Final Four. But now that they have already achieved it, he wants his wards to dream bigger.

“Nag No. 3 pa kami so good finish na ‘yon, pero kailangan namin ma-overachieve ‘yun kung ano kami ngayon,” he said.

It will be a tough battle for UST as La Salle is looking to bounce back from a 25-12, 20-25, 21-25, 19-25 loss to Ateneo two weeks ago.

The Taft-based squad left the Big Dome quietly after the loss to the Lady Eagles and La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus refused to share their plans for the Holy Week break.

Reyes, on the other hand, let his wards go on a break and is optimistic that it gave them the much-needed rest and recovery for the Final Four.

“Ok naman ang preparation namin for La Salle. May mga bago din kaming ginagawa para matapatan namin ang lakas ng La Salle,” he said.

Meanwhile, UST spiker EJ Laure, who spent the Holy Week with her family, vowed not to waste the Final Four opportunity.

“Syempre hindi na namin sasayangin ang chance na ito,” said Laure.

“After ilang years tapos ang dami ng trabaho naming ginawa, madaming sacrifices para maabot ang Final Four, hindi na namin sasayangin ito,” she added.

The third year spiker and former Rookie of the Year showed grit in playing through a sprained foot in the final stretch of their win over NU. She promised to show the same dedication and fearlessness in going up against La Salle, especially with the support of the UST fans.

“First two years ko sa UST, parang sobrang roller coaster ride tapos itong third year ko na grabe ang pinagdaanan namin,” Laure said. “Grabe ang hirap namin sa training, grabe ang pukpukan namin, grabe ang takbuhan so parang feeling ko naman worth it ang lahat ng pagod namin and wala na kami dapat katakutan pa.”

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“Syempre sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa amin (ako kumukuha ng lakas) nakaka-overwhelm talaga kasi and sila ang hindi bumitaw sa amin, sila rin ang inspiration namin,” she added.

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