UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas advanced to the UAAP women’s volleyball finals for the first time in eight years, while ending La Salle’s three-year title reign with a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10 victory on Sunday at the MOA Arena.
The Tigresses scored a repeat over the Lady Spikers, who they beat on Wednesday in a playoff for the No. 2 spot and a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
UST takes on either top seed Ateneo or No. 4 Far Eastern University, who will face off one more time on Wednesday after the Lady Tamaraws extended the semifinals.
La Salle saw its bid for a fourth straight title end early, sputtering down the stretch with a loss to FEU in the final elimination-round match before the two straight losses to UST.
“Malaking bagay at least para maging memorable yung exit (nila Sisi Rondina). Di lang puro heartaches yung nangyayari samin, especially last year,” said UST Head Coach Kungfu Reyes. “At least na-redeem nila yung sarili nila. Sama-sama na kami dun sa pagkakapanalo ngayon. Malaking bagay. Morale-booster para samin.”
The Lady Spikers miss out on the championship round after 10 straight finals appearances.
Laure made sure not to waste their twice-to-beat advantage as she played her career-best 25 points.
Graduating spiker Sisi Rondina fulfilled her promise to bring back UST to the Finals delivering 17 points laced up with 10 excellent receptions, while setter Alina Bicar also came to the rescue in the fifth set helping her team pullaway from a precarious 11-10 lead soaring for a surprising spike and nailing an ace that gave UST a 13-10 breather before Laure delivered the killer blows.
Bicar dished out 23 excellent sets and had 15 digs and five markers. Middle Blockers KC Galdones and Caitlyn Viray chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively, while senior libero Rica Rivera protected the floor with 21 digs and as many as excellent receptions.
The Tigresses blew a two-set lead committing 26 of their total 41 errors combined in the third and fourth set that let the Lady Spikers force a decider.
La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus’s rotation and the heart of the champions worked wonders to tie the match but UST showed in the fifth set how it badly wanted to fulfill its destiny.
Jolina Dela Cruz, once again, led La Salle with 12 points on top of 16 excellent receptions. Desiree Cheng played her last UAAP game with 10 points including 13 digs. Aduke Ogunsanya also had 10 markers while one-and-done player Lourdes Clemente added seven in her last game as a Lady Spiker. Norielle Ipac also finished with seven fielded in late in the third set.