UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas earned the last Finals berth after turning back University of the East, 27-25, 19-25, 25-14, 25-20, and inched a win closer from sweeping the elimination round of the Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam on Tuesday at the Muntinlupa Sports Center.
The troika of Eya Laure, Milena Alessandrini and Tin Francisco carried the cudgels for UST to set a winner-take-all Finals duel with University of the Philippines on December 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Rookie sensation Laure powered the Tigresses with 15 points off 13 kills. Team captain Francisco chipped in 14 hits, while the Fil-Italian Alessandrini had 13 markers including 13 digs.
Dimdim Pacres was also instrumental off the bench with seven hits — highlighted by set-clinching hits in the third and fourth sets, while libero Janel Delerio protected the floor with 17 excellent receptions and 10 digs.
UST head coach Kungfu Reyes is happy that his wards composed of 10 rookies made it to the championship round but he insisted that there is still a lot of work to be done.
"Medyo mababa pa nga 'yung transition namin sa mga atake so kita talaga na malaki pa 'yung room for improvement namin," said Reyes referring to their slow start in the first two sets, where they committed most of their 27 errors in the match.
"Marami kaming errors na kung sana na-convert namin, mas positive for us. Although normal naman 'yung errors, gusto namin ma-polish pa 'yung game namin."
The Tigresses needed to overcome a slow start splitting the first two sets before erupting in the third set with a 14-4 start and never look back until the fourth set to take down the Lady Red Warriors in an hour and 54 minutes.
UST will try to sweep the five-game elimination round on Thursday against De La Salle-Dasmariñas (0-3), 2 p.m., at the same venue in Muntinlupa
Judith Abil was the double digits scorer for UE with 15 points as the Lady Red Warriors dropped to 1-3 record and will try to bounce back on Thursday against CSA Eagles (1-2) at 12 noon also in Muntinlupa City.