Undermanned UST proves too strong to stun Air Force and open V-League stint on winning note
Carla Sandoval scored 18 of her 19 points on spikes. Freddie Dionisio

UNDERMANNED University of Santo Tomas proved too strong to take down Philippine Air Force, 25-15, 20-25, 25-13, 25-21, in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference at the PhilSports Arena on Saturday.

EJ Laure and Carla Sandoval stepped up for UST, which missed four of its players, as they finished with 19 points apiece, while Ria Meneses added 15 and Chloe Cortez chipped in 12.

Sisi Rondina and Caitlyn Viray were absent due to the UAAP Season 79 women’s beach volleyball, while returning skipper Pam Lastimosa and Christine Francisco had to attend to their classes.

Laure, who was bothered by the irritation of her eye contacts, had an all-around game of 12 kills, three blocks and four service aces, while Sandoval anchored her offense on 18 spikes.

The Tigresses trailed by as much as six, 7-13, in the fourth set before they snatched the lead, 17-16, after a Sandoval service ace.

UST stepped on the gas and reached match point, 24-19, after a 7-3 run capped by Meneses’ back-to-back attacks, but the Tigresses’ two errors gave hope to the Jet Spikers, 21-24, until a service error by Joy Cases handed UST the win.

“‘Yun nga ang nagiging problema namin, isa lang naman ang tinatanong ko sa kanila, gusto niyo bang manalo? Trabahuhin namin. Nag-struggle kami sa service eh,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes.

“So nag-response naman, although may mga lapses sa dulo, pero ang importante is nakakabalik din at ‘yun nga ang maturity ng mga bata. Especially EJ ‘di man masyadong vocal pero puro gawa na lang siya kasi irritated siya doon sa contact lens niya eh,” he added.

UST is tied with Laoag at 1-0. The Power Smashers defeated Philippine Coast Guard, 25-8, 25-15, 25-16, in the opener.

Iari Yongco finished with 11 points for Air Force, which came from its successful title run in its mother league the AFP Olympics.

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“Kino-commend ko din si Air Force kasi alam ko may hangover pa kasi kakatapos lang ng AFP Olympics na sila ang nanalo, siguro mayroon pang hangover so lately lang kasi natapos siguro may celebration,” shared Reyes.

“So ‘yun naman ang ginawa naming motivation kumbaga tinake advantage na namin ang situation na ganyan pa sila maglaro kasi anytime pag nag-fifth set pa ‘yan mag dedelikado pa kami,” he added.

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