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Tigresses knock crown off Lady Spikers heads

Tigresses knock crown off Lady Spikers heads


Bernadett Pepito reminded her teammates that they wanted this so they might as well “embrace the moment.”

University of Santo Tomas (UST) did just that and toppled La Salle’s reign Sunday night.

The Tigresses refused to pull out their twice-to-beat card and ran away in the fifth set for a 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-7 victory over the Lady Spikers and punched a ticket to the Finals of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

“The feeling is unbelievable. I’m very honored to be captain of this promising team. We worked hard for every point and it bore fruit,’’ said Pepito, who blunted La Salle’s formidable attacks with 18 digs and 16 receptions.Rookie Angeline Poyos exploded with 28 points built around 25 attacks and Jonna Perdido contributed 18 as the Tigresses ended the reign of their rivals for a chance to capture the crown that eluded them five seasons ago.

“As a rookie, I never thought I would be in this atmosphere. I promise to do much better in the finals,’’ Poyos said.

Cassie Carballo, whose ace capped the Tigresses victory, again ran the offense well for UST, tossing 18 excellent sets.

“This is the dividend that we earned from all the hard work,’’ said UST coach Kungfu Reyes after exacting revenge against the Lady Spikers, who booted them out in the Final Four last season.

Waiting for opponent

The Tigresses will meet the survivor of the National University-Far Eastern University clash on Wednesday after the Lady Tamaraws dragged the Lady Bulldogs to a decider with a forceful three-set victory last Saturday.

UST last made the Finals in 2019, but fell prey to a taller Ateneo squad. Now, the opportunity to win another championship since 2010 has presented itself for the Tigresses.

The Tigresses’ well-oiled offense hummed early as the three-pronged attack of Poyos, Perdido and Jurado gave them a quick start.

Perdido’s block on the much taller Thea Gagate and Jurado’s cut shot gave the Tigresses an 11-6 lead on the way to taking the first set.

But things started getting tricky in the second set.

La Salle used a 10-0 run as fuel to tie the match at a set each and won back some momentum heading into the third.

But UST fought back, with Carballo simplifying things by unleashing Poyos and Jurado, who combined for five crucial points for the Tigresses that allowed them to grab the third set.

After La Salle took the fourth set to tie up the match again, the Lady Spikers held the Tigresses to a deadlock at 3 early in the fifth set, before UST regrouped behind Carballo, Poyos, Jurado and Em Banagua, who strained her left knee and was treated briefly in the early part of the match.

UST used six straight points from its finishing group to seize control.

“When I entered the court, I was reminded that it was also on May 5 that we won in the Final Four and entered the Finals five years ago,” Reyes said.

The Tigresses wound up bridesmaids that season.

“This time, we intend to change the result,’’ Reyes added.

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Shevana Laput led the Lady Spikers with 20 points while Gagate had 16 on top of six blocks. Angel Canino used 12 attacks to finish with 14 points for La Salle. INQ

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