By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WITH the kind of path they are carving in their ongoing championship run in Season 81 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, it is not hard to refer to the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses as a team of destiny.
But while they welcome such inference, they are not letting themselves be too caught up with it, choosing instead to continue working in every game to achieve their goal of bringing back the UAAP women’s volleyball title to España after nine years.
On Saturday, UST moved a step closer to its championship goal after beating top seeds Ateneo Lady Eagles in straight sets, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-20, in Game One of their best-of-three finals.
It was a continuation of the fine form of the Tigresses of late, winning seventh straight since the windup of the elimination round, and the good tidings they have been receiving that have seen them claim the second seed and the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four and dethrone the De La Salle Lady Spikers in the semifinals at the first instance.
In Game One at the weekend, graduating UST captain Sisi Rondina was in her element and did a good job leading her team to the victory.
Rondina finished with a game-high 23 points, 20 off spikes, in their dominant win over Ateneo, which simply did not have any answers to the Tigresses’ attack all game long.
Super rookie Eya Laure had 11 of her own for UST with Caitlin Viray adding seven and Ysa Jimenez and Alina Bicar six points apiece.
After the game, the Tigresses noted that key for them is just going for it and having their eyes fixed on the prize.
“Going into the finals I was not thinking of anything else but doing whatever it takes. We came here thinking of winning and at the same learning from it. We had the same preparation but just worked hard for this victory,” said Rondina, the league most valuable player.
“Our coaches said we just have to have our eyes on the prize and we just responded to what the coaches asked of us,” she added.
For UST coach Kungfu Reyes, while the win was a good one for them, it is important for the team not to get too ahead of itself and stop working and let the title just fall on its lap.
“This is a good win for our morale. We have to continue playing at the present, work on our goal step by step. We had our game plan and studied Ateneo’s game to counter them. And the players stepped up,” said Mr. Reyes, who has taken the Tigresses to their first finals appearance under his watch.
Game Two of the UAAP women’s volleyball finals is on May 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena.