Impressed rivals like UST Tigresses' UAAP chances after gutsy V-League showing
Sisi Rondina and the Tigresses put up a gallant stand against Pocari. Dante Peralta

‘GRITTY’ University of Santo Tomas is more than ready for the coming UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball action as far as Shakey’s V-League tormentor Pocari Sweat coach Rommel Abella and Michele Gumabao are concerned.

Pocari, the reigning Open Conference champions, booked a return trip to the finals but it was in no way easy as UST put up a gallant stand before losing, 25-17, 24-26, 26-24, 25-27, 15-8, in Game Two of their Reinforced Conference semifinal series at the PhilSports Arena on Monday.

“Very gritty talaga sila eh, it goes with the coach. Kasi ‘yung coach nila is a fighter (kaya) makaka-expect talaga tayo na UST lalaban at lalaban ‘yan no matter what and alam naman namin ‘yun going sa semifinals,” said Abella.

UST hitters EJ Laure and Sisi Rondina impressed against Pocari while middle blockers Ria Meneses and Chloe Cortez made life hard for the Lady Warriors' spikers.

Liberos Rica Rivera and Patricia Rasmo also stood out for the all-Filipino Tigresses.

“Nothing to lose sila so lahat ng palo namin nadepensahan nila, their floor defense nila today was really good and ang blocking nila nandon talaga so ayun, talagang kami na-late kami ng adjust but better late than never and pagdating ng fifth set,” said Gumabao.

[See Pocari books return trip to V-League finals as gritty UST stand falls short]

Both Abella, who’s also an assistant coach of the UST boys team in the UAAP, and Gumabao, a deputy coach in the Adamson women’s team, agreed that the Tigresses have shown that they can be legitimate UAAP contenders.

“Kung ‘yan ang magiging lineup nila, kasi ‘di natin alam kung ‘yan ang official line up nila going into the UAAP, I guess they’re more than ready for the UAAP wars and coming from UST I hope they are ready,” said Abella, who played alongside UST coach Kungfu Reyes in college.

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Gumabao said: “Siguro for me competitive sila, they (UST) won the Unigames, that means they’re one step ahead of everybody else."

The Tigresses battled back from a 17-23 deficit to take the second set and saved two match points before Laure and Cortez combined to send the match to a decider.

“Ito nga ‘yung pinakamahirap na kalabanin na team, ‘yung nothing to lose,” said Gumabao. “They’re one game down and nakita naman natin na all throughout the sets lumalamang talaga kami tapos humahabol sila.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada