UST Tigresses finally show grit, battle back in fifth set to beat NU Lady Bulldogs
UST star Cherry Rondina drives a spike past Jaja Santiago's defense. Jaime Campos

UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas launched a gritty fightback in the fifth set to pull off a 25-14, 25-18, 17-25, 19-25, 15-12 win over National University in the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena on Saturday.

Skipper EJ Laure and Cebuana hotshot Cherry 'Sisi' Rondina led the way with 21 points apiece for the Tigresses, who lost the fourth set and found themselves trailing, 3-8, in the finale before going on the game-clinching run.

Tigresses mentor Kungfu Reyes was no doubt pleased with the grit shown by his players, who won a second successive game after a 0-3 start to the season.

"Huling bilin ko sa kanila sa fifth set, 'Gagapang ba tayo ulit o tatayo tayo sa pagkakadapa" Nag-respond naman although until the end naghahabol kami lumamang na lang kami noong 12 (all) na," said Reyes.

"Thankful ako sa NU, napakahirap talaga kalaban ng mga bata ni coach Roger (Gorayeb). Talagang breaks of the game na lang," he added.

NU looked headed to the win when it opened an 8-3 lead in the final set, but its errors kept UST within striking distance, 9-11.

Hits by Rondina and Chloe Cortez enabled the Tigresses to tie the game, 12-12, before Jorelle Singh's untimely error handed the EspaƱa-based spikers the lead, 13-12.

From there, back-to-back blocks enabled the Tigresses to pull off the victory.

Reyes later commended rookie Alyssa Teope and sophomore Rica Rivera for the intangibles they delivered for the team.

"Teope and Rica sa depensa, EJ, Sisi and even Chloe 'yun ang nagsave sa amin sa game na ito," said Reyes.

Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo had 23 and 20 points, respectively, for the Lady Bulldogs, who dropped to third place with a 3-2 card.

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