MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Make it two wins in a row for the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors.
The Lady Warriors shocked University of Santo Tomas (UST), 25-23, 18-25, 28-26, 26-24, for its second straight victory in the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
This is the first time since Season 74 that UE has put together a winning streak, and the first time that they had beaten the Golden Tigresses in the UAAP's Final 4 era.
Libero Kath Arado put together another remarkable performance, tallying 28 digs and 32 receptions. Mary Ann Mendrez fired 21 points including 15 kills, while Shaya Adorador contributed 15 points. Seth Rodriguez and Judith Abil each had 10 points as the Lady Warriors unleashed another total team effort to get the win.
"No words can express how happy I am," beamed interim UE head coach Rod Roque, who has matched the win total of former coach Francis Vicente after just three games in charge of the Lady Warriors.
Vicente coached the Lady Warriors for almost three-and-a-half seasons before resigning with one game to go in the first round of Season 80.
"Sobrang nakaka-overwhelm," said Arado. "Sobrang worth it lahat ng pagod na ginagawa namin sa training."
The game was a display of UE's poise – a characteristic that they rarely displayed in previous season.
In the first set, they outlasted the Tigresses with Mendrez tying the frame at 23, then putting up a wall to stifle Carla Sandoval at the net. Sandoval's next hit went straight to the net, giving the Lady Warriors the win in the opener.
UST rebounded in the second frame, winning in comfortable fashion, 25-18. They were on the verge of winning the third frame, having taken a 24-10 lead, when the Lady Warriors came alive. With Shaya Adorador firing darts from the service line, UE proceeded to save four set points, then took the lead when Sisi Rondina sent an attack long, 25-24.
A kill by Rondina tied it at 25, before Mendrez responded with a down-the-line hit for a 26-25 count. Another Rondina attack knotted the score at 26, but UE reached set point off a Dimdim Pacres mishit, and an offspeed kill by Judith Abil completed UE's comeback.
With momentum firmly on their side, UE surged to a 12-5 lead in the fourth set, but Rondina refused to let the Tigresses fade away. She dropped hammer after hammer to spark UST's run, and Sandoval joined the fray with a hit of her own to make it 24-22.
Once again, however, it was UE that stood strong in crunch time. Cecilia Bangad met a double-block by UE, before Adorador's crosscourt kill tied the set at 24. UST completed its collapse by committing errors in back-to-back rallies that gave the set and the match to the Lady Warriors.
"In-underestimate nila kami," Roque observed of UST. "That's a big factor."
Rondina, the leading scorer in the league, fired 25 points to lead UST, while Dimdim Pacres contributed 18. As a team, UST had 63 attacks to only 46 by the Lady Warriors.
But UE dominated the other scoring skills, tallying 12 kill blocks to only two for the Golden Tigresses. They also had more aces, 10-7, and got 29 free points off UST's errors.
The reeling Golden Tigresses have now lost four games in a row, and are seeing their hopes of making the Final 4 fading away. They have a 2-6 win-loss record, tied with UE in the league standings.
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