MANILA, Philippines – University of Sto. Tomas (UST) got the girls' volleyball crown back to Espana and stayed in the hunt in softball in UAAP Season 76 action on Saturday.
With Ennajie Laure leading the attack, UST defeated National University (NU), 25-16, 22-25, 25-22, 25-22, to end a four-year wait for the girls volleyball championship it won last in the 2009-10 season behind now college stars Alyssa Valdez and Kim Fajardo.
UST won the tightly-contested best-of-three series, 2-1, for its sixth crown overall, now the second winningest in the league behind La Salle-Zobel's nine.
The Junior Tigresses escaped with a 28-26, 25-17, 18-25, 20-25, 15-13 win in Game 2 last Wednesday to level the best-of-three series to one game apiece. The Lady Bullpups won the opener, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 16-14.
Laure, daughter of former basketball pro Eddie Laure, was superb in offense and showed leadership on the floor in her final game for the Junior Tigresses to win the Most Valuable Player honors. She also bagged the Best Attacker award, while her young sister Ejiya, who was also impressive in orchestrating plays, took home the Best Setter plum.
UST frontliner Pauline Gaston, another daughter of a former cage pro, Fritz Gaston, bagged the Best Blocker trophy.
The Lady Bullpups' Faith Nisperos was adjudged as the Rookie of the Year, while her teammate Marites Pablo, the younger sister of Lady Bulldogs' hitter Myla Pablo, went home with the Best Server plum. Another NU player, Kristine Magallanes, grabbed the Best Libero award and La Salle-Zobel's Felicia Marie Cui is the Best Receiver.
UST in softball semis
UST also made its presence felt at the Rizal Memorial Stadium by beating University of the East (UE), 6-0, to book a semifinals showdown with NU in the first step-ladder phase.
Last season’s top rookie Mallows Garde, who was unbeaten on the mound in eight games, did a no-relief job for UST, allowing only five hits and striking out three out 25.
In contrast, the UE pitching duo of Jonavie Jerezano and Elvie Senangote allowed seven singles, one double, and one triple for a total of nine hits out of 32 batters.
The Tigresses will face a Lady Bulldogs’ side that owns a twice-to-beat advantage at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The winner will face unbeaten defending champion Adamson University in the finals.