One favorite story in sports for many longtime followers of athletes and teams is when a prominent competitor that had once competed in finals games or championships, but has not placed that high in years, finally makes a comeback. In UAAP Women’s Volleyball, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) last fought for the title in a Finals match close to a decade ago. Since then, it has struggled to return there against so many other powerhouse teams. On Sunday, they finally broke their years-spanning finals curse in a hard-fought match. And their opponent was against the three-time champion to boot.
ABS-CBN Sports reports that the UST women’s volleyball team finally locked for itself a spot in the UAAP Finals for season 81 at the Mall of Asia Arena on May 5. They secured it in a hard-fought match, the first of the Final Four matchups that will decide the finalists for the year. UST last got to that position in season 73, eight years ago. Even then they only finished as the runner-up. Now the current-generation team, led by Eya Laure, has halted the 10-year finals appearance of the De La Salle Lady Spikers and returned to the big time.
In an impressive display of freshman power, Laure achieved her best career stats yet with 25 points against La Salle, with 21 of them delivered by powerful spikes. Also contributing to the scoring for UST was Sisi Rondina on her final year, making 17 points and 10 receptions. Following these two are Kecelyn Galdones (11 points), Caitlyn Viray (10 points), Alina Bicar (23 sets, 15 digs) and Rica Rivera (21 digs, 21 receptions). With these hard-hitting scorers the Tigresses of Santo Tomas got off to a 10-5 lead. While the Lady Spikers managed to get close with 11-10, Bicar brought the ball back to UST, setting up Laure’s epic game-winners.
This was a painful blow to De La Salle which has long been laboring to raise their record championship three-peat into four. In their place, UST will now be waiting for whichever team wins the other half of the Final Four, that being Ateneo de Manila University and Far Easter University. Their own game is set on Wednesday, May 8. The first encounter for the UAAP season 81 finals will be on Saturday, May 11.
Image courtesy of Inquirer Sports