LA Salle coach Ramil de Jesus heaved a huge sigh of relief after getting past a University of Santo Tomas team that admittedly got him terrified heading to their Final Four match in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Lady Spikers hacked out a 25-14, 25-20, 24-26, 25-13 win on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum, and the La Salle mentor was relieved to turn back another gutsy effort from the Tigresses.
“Isa nga yan sa mga kinatatakutan kong team, UST,” said de Jesus, who noted the Tigresses power-hitting duo of Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure making up for their team’s reception issues.
The Tigresses only had 28 excellent receptions but Rondina and Laure were able to score 16 and 13 attacks, respectively, or 29 of the team’s 38 kills in a match that took two hours and eight minutes to finish.
“Kasi ang nakakatakot sa UST, kahit walang receive, andyan ‘yung dalawang outside hitter nila, talagang pupuntos,” he said.
UST coach Kungfu Reyes took the praise for his hitters in stride.
“Totoo ‘yan, makakasalubong mo ‘to (Rondina), ‘di ka matakot? Ikaw kaya maglakad na may mangga kang kaharap, ‘uy may manggang naglalakad ah’” kidded Reyes.
“‘Di, joke lang. Sila kasi ‘yung outstanding na outside hitter for now. Kung hindi man sila ang No. 1, sabihin mo na sa Top 5 sila. Siyempre for me, kung pwede ko i-Top 1, Top 1 silang dalawa,” he added.
But Reyes was quick to say that in the game of volleyball, having outstanding outside hitters cannot beat a more talented team.
“Ang problema hindi lang sila ang tao. Anim na tao 'yan eh. Hindi naman lagi din, pag inangatan mo ng bola, papaluin at papaluin,” said Reyes.
Although La Salle dominated the match in every scoring department - attacks (48-38), blocks (17-8) and service aces (11-1), still de Jesus was wary of the Tigresses.
“Hindi biro ang team nila compared sa mga nakaraang year. Sobrang nag-improve ang team ng UST,” he said. “Swerte na nalampasan namin.”
La Salle takes on either the top-seeded Ateneo Lady Eagles or No. 4 Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, who clash in the other semifinal on Sunday.