Tearful EJ Laure inspires UST comeback after playing through pain to end Final Four drought
A tearful EJ Laure refused to be subbed out even after an ankle injury in the closing stretch of the crucial UST-NU match. Jerome Ascano

EJ Laure proved to be an inspiring figure for the University of Santo Tomas after tearfully playing through pain in the closing stretch of the crucial match against National University on Saturday.

The Tigresses were two points away from clinching their spot in the Final Four when top hitter Laure hurt her right ankle after a bad landing.

But Laure immediately stood back up, stomped her foot and refused to be subbed out, playing through pain just to finish off the Lady Bulldogs and end the Tigresses four-year absence from the Final Four.

Laure was seen in tears and did not even bother wiping her eyes in a show of courage that inspired her teammates. But she clarified that it was not pain that got her crying, rather it was the timing of the injury.

“Umiyak ako kasi, hindi dahil dun sa sprain, (pero) dahil dun sa malapit na eh, two points away na lang. Tungkol sa laro talaga ‘yung tears,” said Laure, whose team was up 13-12 in the final set at the time of the fall.

[See UST completes Final Four cast after stunning comeback against NU]

Team captain Sisi Rondina wrecked a double block to push UST at match point before Mary Dominique Pacres sealed the deal for the Tigresses, 22-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12, that rocked the Araneta Coliseum.

“Sinabi ko sa sarili ko, ngayon pa ako na-sprain kung kailan two points na lang, pero nandyan naman sila to cover me up,” said Laure.

“Ang gusto ko lang kasi, matapos ‘yung game na nandun ako,” she said.

Laure registered 22 points, all from kills, 19 digs and eight excellent receptions in a match that took almost two hours to finish.

UST made it back to the Final Four after four years of absence, and will face no.2 La Salle, armed with a twice-to-beat edge, when the semis kicks off on April 22. 

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