UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas survived a thriller of a match by turning back reigning NCAA Arellano, 25-21, 25-22, 19-25, 24-26, 15-12, in the round robin quarterfinals of the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Sunday.
The Tigresses appeared headed to an easy straight-set victory when the Lady Chiefs suddenly came alive and win the next two sets to force a decider.
The Lady Chiefs pushed the Tigresses to the limit in the fifth and final set after tying the count at 12-12, after guest player Mina Aganon unloaded four unanswered points.
But Pam Lastimosa and EJ Laure came through for the Espanad-bases school by scoring the last three points of the match to seal it for the Tigresses.
Despite the near meltdown, UST coach Kungfu Reyes was calm and collected during the post-game interview.
“Panibagong chapter ito para sa mga bata, lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila, walang nananalo sa dalawang sets lang,” said Reyes, in obvious reference to the Tigresses failure to end the match after winning the first two sets
“Hindi kami dapat nagrelax, ang dami naming tinapon sa third set lalo na sa atake,” he added. “Challenge sa amin is when the level (of the game) escalates, dapat kami ang leadership namin mag-elevate.”
Laure powered UST with 23 points, 20 from attacks, one block, and two service aces, while Lastimosa added 18, Chlodia Cortez chipped in 14, and Ria Meneses had 10.
Reyes was pleased to see Laure, the UAAP Season 77 Rookie of the Year, finally step up her game for the team.
“Si EJ tinanggap na niya ang role niya, ang maging mina ng ginto, mas nararamdaman na niya ang role niya, nagmamature na siya,” he said.
UST needed two hours and 28 minutes to take its third win in four outings.
Aganon had 23 points for Arellano, while team captain Cristine Rosario contributed 15, Danna Henson chipped in 11, and Menchie Tubiera added 10.
The Lady Chiefs dropped to an even 2-2 record.