UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas (UST) banked on its young guns to outlast University of the Philippines (UP) in a five-set marathon, 27-25, 26-28, 25-18, 22-25, 17-15, to advance to the semifinals of the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum late Sunday.
UST completed an all-University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) semifinals cast joining unbeaten National University (NU), Adamson University and De La Salle University.
The Tigresses set up a semifinals showdown with reigning UAAP champions Lady Bulldogs who have yet to lose after six matches.
The knockout semifinals of the tournament organized by Athletic Events and Sports Management Inc. is set Friday, while the winner-take-all championship is on November 19.
NU booked the first semifinals ticket after sweeping Far Eastern University (FEU), 25-10, 25-17, 25-15; Adamson University booted out University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 25-14, 25-16, 25-16; and De La Salle decimated Ateneo, 25-17, 25-23, 25-10.
UST freshmen Xyza Gula and Regina Jurado stepped up in the absence of veteran Eya Laure. They delivered 20 points apiece.
The duo scored back-to-back hits that wrapped up the grueling two-hour, 50-minute encounter.
“We just held on, did our best and refused to give up,” said Gula, who pounded 17 attack points including a down the line kill that pushed UST to its third match point advantage.
“We just want to prove that we’re not just rookies but super rookies. That we won’t back down from any challenge,” she added.
Angeli Abellana put the Tigresses at first matchpoint advantage, 14-12, but a catch-and-throw violation of UST in the next play followed by a kill block by Fighting Maroon Ethan Arce on Gula forced a deuce.
Gula answered with a down the line hit but UP captain Jewel Encarnacion knotted the score at 15 with a through the block smash.
Gula again hammered a kill from the left side before Jurado nailed the piercing crosscourt hit from the right corner for the finishing blow.
Abellana posted 16 points while Athena Abbu had 10 markers for the Tigresses.
Alyssa Bertolano led the UP with 18 points including 14 attacks, Joan Monares had 14 markers while Encarnacion finished with 10.
The Fighting Maroons slid to the classification round joining Perpetual Help, Ateneo and FEU.