UST beats UE, clinches Final Four slot; NU on the cusp of outright Finals berth

University of Santo Tomas beat University of the East in straight sets, 26-24, 25-18, 25-19, to finally clinch a Final Four berth in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball Tuesday, June 7 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Ypril Tapia (right) and libero Bernadette Pepito of University of Santo Tomas (UAAP Media Bureau)

The Golden Tigresses maintained their No. 3 spot and improved to a 9-4 record behind the joint efforts of Ypril Tapia and Eya Laure.

Tapia led UST’s balanced attack with 13 points all coming from attacks while Eya Laure hammered down 12 markers on top of 11 spikes. Kecelyn Galdonez, who earned the Player of the Game honors, also chipped in 11 points

The win, however, wasn’t a walk in the park for the Tigresses though as the Lady Warriors showed grit after showing some resistance in a tight first set.

“Pina-practice din kasi namin yan sa training. ‘Yong mga up by two, up by three, up by five. Pero ‘yong composure din kasi ng mga bata talagang nangyayayari at nangyayari yan. Ni-remind na lang namin na kailangan simula’t sapul aggressive sila all the time,” said Tigresses assistant coach Yani Fernandez, temporarily replacing head tactician Kung Fu Reyes who was absent due to personal reasons.

UST, down 17-18 in the third, made sure that there won’t be any extended sets as it unloaded an 8-1 run capped by an Ysa Jimenez attack for the sweep.

After a hard-earned first frame victory, the Tigresses also trailed by a point midway through the second canto before unleashing a 10-2 spurt for the set win.

The already ran Warriors actually reached match set point first in the first set but Imee Hernandez’s quick attack enabled an equalizer before Ja Lana committed back-to-back errors.

Lana paced UE, which fell to a 0-13 hole, with nine points while Dara Nieva had eight markers.

In the second game, National University stayed unbeaten in 13 straight matches after defeating the hapless Far Eastern University, 24-26, 25-17, 25-19, 25-10.

National University’s Michaela Belen receives the ball (UAAP Media Bureau)

Michaela Belen spearheaded the Lady Bulldogs anew with 18 points all built from spikes, Sheena Toring posted nine attacks and two blocks for 12 markers, while Alyssa Solomon added 10 points.

Jovelyn Fernandez and Chen Tagaod backstopped the Lady Tamaraws, who fell to a 1-12 slate, with 16 and 11 points, respectively.

NU is one win away from an outright Finals contention and on the cusp of making a stepladder format in post-season but UST can play spoiler on Thursday, June 9.

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded and reigning champion Ateneo (7-5) and Adamson (6-6) dispute for the last spot in the Final Four as they take on No. 2 team De La Salle (9-3) and University of the Philippines (5-7) as of this writing.

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