MANILA (UPDATED) -- University of Santo Tomas remains undefeated in the 2023 Shakey's Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship after a three-set victory over Letran, Monday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
The Golden Tigresses spoiled Oliver Almadro's debut with the Lady Knights as they pulled off a 25-21, 25-23, 25-14 sweep. UST needed clutch hits in the first two frames before imposing their will in the third en route to a second straight win in Pool C.
Incoming rookie Angeline Poyos anchored the UST offense with 13 points on 11 kills, an ace, and a block. Xyza Gula added nine while setter Cassie Carballo contributed seven points -- four off aces. Regina Jurado and Kyla Cordora also cashed in seven apiece in the Golden Tigresses’ balanced attack.
The Tigresses completed the win in just 81 minutes, following up on their four-set triumph over Perpetual Help in the tournament opener last weekend.
They trailed late in Set 1, 19-20, but ended the frame on a 6-1 run punctuated by Gula’s ace to earn a 25-21 win. In Set 2, they pulled ahead 22-18 before Letran got within a point, 23-24, off a Judiel Nitura pipe attack.
It was Gula who came to UST's rescue, securing the winner off a push against the Letran blockers. They rode that momentum in the third set, roaring to an 18-8 start as the Lady Knights lost steam.
"Hindi pa kami satisfied. Kailangan bigyan pa namin ng diin. Syempre, a win is a win pero ‘yung level ng nilalaro namin, kailangan itaas pa," said UST coach Kungfu Reyes.
After their third-place finish in the SSL National Invitationals, the Tigresses have now fortified their quarterfinal bid in the Pre-Season Championship with still a game left in their preliminary round schedule.
They will play reigning NCAA champion College of St. Benilde in their last assignment.
Nitura scored 12 points to pace the Lady Knights, who will face CSB in search of a bounce-back win on Saturday.
-- FEU, San Sebastian grab first wins --
In other matches, Far Eastern University and San Sebastian College-Recoletos booked first wins at the expense of Mapua University and Jose Rizal University, respectively.
FEU needed just 77 minutes to cruise to a 25-23, 25-14, 25-18 win over the Lady Cardinals in Pool D. Alyzza Devosora pumped in 18 points on 14 attacks and four aces while Gerzel Petallo added 10 for the charges of interim head coach Manolo Refugia in lieu of former mentor Tina Salak.
Meanwhile, the Lady Stags carved out a 25-20, 21-25, 25-20, 25-12 win over the Lady Bombers in Pool A.
Katherine Santos had 20 points on 16 hits, two aces and two blocks as Zenith Deposoy and Christina Marasigan contributed 18 and 13 points, respectively, to form a lethal troika for San Sebastian.
JRU slid to 0-2 in Pool A as the Lady Cardinals (0-1) got off to a losing start in Pool D.