MANILA, Philippines – The University of Santo Tomas (UST) tandem of Cherry Rondina and Caitlyn Viray hacked out a hard-fought win over Far Eastern University's (FEU) Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza to claim an outright Finals berth in the UAAP Season 80 women's beach volleyball tournament.
In a back-and-forth contest, the UST pair managed to claim a 22-20, 17-21, 15-13 victory to finish the elimination round with a perfect 7-0 win-loss record.
Rondina, a two-time MVP, played second fiddle in the end game as it was Viray who scored their final three points to send the Tigresses straight to the best-of-three championship series.
The Lady Tamaraws rallied from a 2-6 hole in the deciding set to grab the lead briefly at 8-7 and last took the upperhand at 10-9 on a Viray error.
FEU was trailing 10-12 before taking advantage of UST's errors to force the game's last deadlock at 12-12.
"Siyempre mas maganda kung makuha namin ang gold," said Rondina, who had all praises on her first time partner Viray. "Kinakailangan pang trabahuin."
The Lady Tamaraws finished second in the elims with a 6-1 card and will hold the twice-to-beat advantage in the second step-ladder semifinals.
The UST-FEU clash featuring two of the best players in the sand court in Rondina and Pons truly lived up to the hype.
It was a back-and-forth first frame as the Lady Tamaraws came back from a 7-14 hole to move closer to set point, 20-19, before the Tigresses scored the next three points capped by a Pons net touch to claim the set.
UST rallied a 5-10 second set deficit and closed in at 15-16 on Viray's back-to-back kills before FEU displayed tremendous composure to tie the game at one set apiece.
De La Salle University's Tin Tiamzon and May Luna, meanwhile, made quick work of Ateneo de Manila University's Bea de Leon and Jules Samonte, 21-10, 21-9, to clinch the remaining semis berth and will face Diana Carlos and Ayel Estrañero of University of the Philippines in the first step-ladder.
The Lady Spikers finished the elims at 4-3, while the Lady Eagles bowed out with their fifth loss against two wins.
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