UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas goes for the jugular against Ateneo today (Wednesday) in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals before an expected SRO crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With Sisi Rondina showing the way, the Tigresses stamped their class of the top-ranked Lady Eagles, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, to move on the cusp of ending a nine-year title drought in last Saturday’s series opener.
Though the momentum is on its side, UST is cautious on what Ateneo can bring on the table to force a deciding Game 3 this weekend.
“Parang walang nangyari. Hangga’t hindi pa tapos ang liga, hindi kami tumitigil. Kung ano ang nasimulan namin na program, itutuloy lang namin. Pagandahin ang mga galaw namin at i-lessen ang mga error namin para matapos namin (sa Wednesday). Kung kaya namin tapusin, gagawin namin ngayon,” said Tigresses coach Kungfu Reyes.
Super rookie Eya Laure also wants to be in the zone, setting aside the euphoria of winning Game 1, and simply focus of the present.
“Sabi ko kina ate Sisi nung nanalo kami and nag-huddle kami sa gitna, walang magiging kampante. May isang laro pa at hindi pa tapos ang laban. Sa Wednesday, kahit ano puwedeng mangyari, puwede siyang mawala,” said Laure.
“Tamang mindset lang, and alam ko naman yung program ni coach Kungfu talaga. Sobrang naniniwala ako sa kanya and yung training na binibigay niya sa amin kasi iyon talaga yung nagmo-mold sa amin as a player. Kung ano po kami ngayon,” she added.
Not since the 2009-10 season when it annexed its 14th championship that UST came close to this.
After ending a seven-year, 15-match losing streak against the Lady Eagles, the Tigresses are hoping to fulfill this season’s battlecry of #KamiNaman that the yellow-clad faithful has been longing for.
“Actually kanina (Game 1), tinititigan ko silang lahat habang naggo-Go USTe. Hanggang ngayon, hindi ako makapaniwala na nabalik namin silang lahat, yung tiwala nila bumalik din, at yung suporta nandoon,”said Laure.
“Sobrang naa-amaze lang din talaga ako na every game, na hanggang ngayon, nandiyan sila, ups and downs. Kaya sobrang nakakataba ng puso,” she added.
Rondina, who had 23 points and 12 digs in the opener, had her Tigresses on her back.
“Paninindigan na namin ito. Sabi ko sa mga bata, walang aayaw. Walang mawawala sa atin,” said Rondina, who will receive the MVP award prior to the game.
“Lagi kong sinasabi sa kanila na walang mawawala sa atin. Mag-enjoy lang tayo. Teamwork lang. Makinig tayo sa mga coaches. Focus lang sa game. Huwag magpa-intimidate sa kalaban. Lalo na, walang iwanan, hanggang dulo tayo,” she added.
To forge a rubber match on Saturday at the same Pasay venue, Ateneo simply needs to dictate the tempo of the match and not let UST to be more aggressive just like in Game 1.
Though they won in blocking which is the team’s main weapon all-season long, the Lady Eagles were badly outhit by the Tigresses, 24-46, and allowed their foes to connect 10 service aces.
Ateneo setter Deanna Wong, who was outplayed by UST’s Alina Bicar in the opener, should trust her spikers to get her team’s offense in full throttle.
In the men’s division, back-to-back title seeking National University goes for the jugular as it tangles with Far Eastern University at 12 noon.