UAAP: UST inspired by La Salle's champion mentality, says coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2019 03:51 PM

UAAP: UST inspired by La Salle's champion mentality, says coach 1
The UST Golden Tigresses have pushed La Salle to the brink. Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) is one win away from advancing to the UAAP women's volleyball finals for the first time since Season 73, after the Golden Tigresses pulled off a four-set win over De La Salle University on Wednesday afternoon.

Behind a phenomenal performance from top MVP candidate Sisi Rondina, the Golden Tigresses claimed a 25-14, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19 triumph that gave them the No. 2 seed in the UAAP Season 81 Final 4. Another win will send UST to the best-of-3 championship for the first time since 2011.

"Another history para sa amin," said UST coach Kungfu Reyes, who has led his team to two semis appearances in his four years in charge.

It was the second time in Season 81 that the Golden Tigresses had beaten the Lady Spikers. They swept the defending champions in their first round encounter, although La Salle struck back with a four-set win in their rematch in the second round.

In the playoff for the second seed – and the twice-to-beat advantage – it was UST that stood tall as La Salle had no response to their firepower. Rondina (29 points) teamed up with rookie Eya Laure (17 points) to hammer away at the Lady Spikers' defense, and the two combined for 40 of UST's 52 kills.

La Salle, as a team, mustered just 33 attack points.

For Reyes, one reason for UST's fine performance is that they are motivated to reach La Salle's level – that is, to become a championship team like the Lady Spikers.

"'Yung heart of a champion (ng La Salle), hindi mo pwedeng alisin," he pointed out. "Naka-instill na 'yan. Regardless, papasok ka dito, champion kami, kailangan champion ka din."

"Kami din, kami naman, gusto naming maging katulad nila. Nai-inspire kami sa kung paano sila mag-laro, gusto naming sabayan," he added.

On Wednesday, UST not only went toe-to-toe with the Lady Spikers – they ultimately overpowered them, just as Reyes had hoped for.

"Kung kaya naming lagpasan, lagpasan namin. This time, medyo swerte kami," he said.

UST still needs to beat La Salle again in their Final 4 match on Sunday to make it to the finals, where they play the winner of the other semis pairing between Far Eastern University and top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University.

Though they now have the upper hand, Reyes also knows that it will be dangerous to underestimate La Salle – precisely because of the same championship mentality that they seek to emulate.

"Hindi mo pwede mong sabihin na vulnerable ang La Salle," said Reyes. "Anytime pwede bumalik kasi they got 'yung ano. 'Yung mga recruit nila, andyan. Andyan 'yung mga beterano nilang player."

"Hindi mo pwedeng sabihin na ganoon lang sila," he added.

The Lady Spikers will surely not roll over on Sunday's do-or-die game, as they are looking to secure an 11th consecutive finals appearance and stay on track for a four-peat.

"Pagandahan na lang talaga ng gising," said Reyes.

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