MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) will look to end a nine-year wait when they face off against Ateneo de Manila University in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball finals, Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Golden Tigresses banked on a superb performance from team captain Sisi Rondina to sweep Ateneo, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, in Game 1 of the best-of-3 series last Saturday and move on the brink of their first UAAP women's volleyball crown since Season 72.
With Rondina firing from all angles, the Golden Tigresses needs just an hour and 27 minutes to beat the Lady Eagles – ending a 15-match losing streak to the Katipunan spikers. Rondina, the Season 81 MVP, finished with 23 points in the victory.
"Gagawin ko po ang lahat, mabalik lang po namin 'yung korona sa España," said Rondina after the game, which saw her put up 20 kills, 2 blocks, and an ace.
"Papanindigan na namin 'to," she added. "Sabi ko nga sa mga bata: walang aayaw, walang mawawala sa atin."
Making the game all the more special for Rondina is that her family will be in town to watch, as the UST community came together to bring her parents and siblings to Manila.
The Golden Tigresses expect to further draw strength from the UST crowd, which should march in droves to the MOA Arena just as they did last weekend in the Big Dome.
"Hanggang ngayon, hindi ako makapaniwala na nabalik namin silang lahat, and 'yung tiwala nila, bumalik din," said Eya Laure, who will receive the Rookie of the Year trophy ahead of the game.
"Sobrang naa-amaze lang talaga ako na every game, hanggang ngayon, andiyan sila," she said of their fans.
Meanwhile, the Ateneo Lady Eagles will try to stave off the end of their season. The top-seeded team at the end of the first round, Ateneo's service receive fell apart against UST, as they gave up 10 aces. Their offense, in turn, sputtered and they only managed 24 attack points.
Even blocking – Ateneo's best skill – netted them only 5 points.
The Lady Eagles opted not to talk to media after the game, though head coach Oliver Almadro said they were "still positive."
"We still believe," he also said.
Game time is at 4 p.m.
A Game 3, if necessary, is on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Meanwhile, National University (NU) will try to wrap up its own best-of-3 series against Far Eastern University (FEU) in the men's volleyball finals.
The Bulldogs bucked a slow start to take down the Tamaraws, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18, in Game 1 also last Saturday.
Another win will give NU its second consecutive men's crown, and fourth in the last seven seasons. Game time is at 12 noon.
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