UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas ended Ateneo’s unbeaten run, 18-25, 25-16, 25-23, 25-22, on Sunday to force a rubber match for a finals berth in V-League Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
EJ Laure scored 17 points, Mela Tunay added 15, Ria Meneses chipped in 12 and skipper Pam Lastimosa contributed 10 for the Tigresses, who needed two hours and two minutes to take the win.
It was a huge win for the Tigresses, who were on the brink of elimination after bowing in the first semifinal match.
UST ended Ateneo’s win run at 10 matches and 28 overall since the Lady Eagles’ title conquest in 2013.
“Ang sabi ko sa kanila ‘Bigyan niyo naman ng redemption ang sarili niyo, naramdaman niyo na ang masaktan kaya rewardan niyo ang sarili niyo ng panalo,’” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes.
“Kasi ayaw na namin masaktan eh, naramdaman na namin ’yung masaktan kaya ’yun na ang motivation namin,” he added.
The deciding match in the best-of-three series is set on Wednesday at 4 p.m., giving NU more time to rest and prepare for the title series after the Lady Bulldogs disposed of the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the other semifinal.
Ateneo looked set to extend the match, fighting from six points down in the fourth to move within two, 16-18, and played tough in a see-saw battle, with Alyssa Valdez saving match point four times.
But UST held on and Tunay sealed the win with a through the block spike.
“Mas gusto ng mga bata na manalo sila,” said Reyes. “Siguro malas lang ang Ateneo wala silang first ball pero sabi ko rin kung hindi kami consistent hindi rin kami mananalo.”
Valdez finished with 24 points for Ateneo, while Maraguinot had 13 and Kim Gequillana chipped in 10.