Saying championship is more important than MVP, Laure leads Tigresses’ bid to live another day vs top seed
A month and a day after Eya Laure pointed her right index finger to the heavens and shouted “no sweep, no sweep,” the charismatic University of Santo Tomas star will be hoping to lead the Growling Tigresses to at least another playing day in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
Usually, the top seeded team—and not No. 4—gets top billing in a schedule like this one, but Laure and the Tigresses were the only ones to put a blemish on La Salle’s season, which the Lady Spikers hope to avenge in the 1 pm game at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
Their two elimination round matches went a total of nine sets, and the Tigresses have the psychological edge going into the match after they won the last of those games, 25-19, 14-25, 25-18, 25-12, behind Laure’s 29 points that also veered most valuable player (MVP) talks away from La Salle rookie Angel Canino.
“What I want is a championship, to appear on the podium,” Laure said in Filipino, dismissing as secondary her chase of the coveted individual award won last year by National University’s (NU) Bella Belen as a rookie. “I’m in my senior year, so that (title) is where all my attention is.”
Belen and the defending champion Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, take the floor at 3 pm against No. 3 Adamson, also needing to beat the Lady Falcons just once to advance to the title series.
“We need to be strong as a team,” Canino answered in Filipino when asked of the clash with Santo Tomas. “Our mindset stays the same—stay with the game plan and take it one step at a time.”Round 2 of the La Salle-Santo Tomas game was possibly the best of the tournament so far, as both squads played their best and the stars figured in a virtual mano a mano.
“We have an ongoing rivalry with La Salle and it’s quite motivating,” Laure said. “We know that they will come in prepared.”
All hands on deck
Santo Tomas is expected to come in with all hands on deck in the battle it can’t afford to lose. The Tigresses were without Bernadett Pepito and Milena Alessandrini in their last elimination round game, a five-set win against lowly University of the Philippines.
Canino will still be La Salle’s main gun, and the rest of the Lady Spikers would want to make sure that Laure doesn’t get to raise that finger again after match point and be dragged into a winner-take-all match.
That’s the same thing that Belen has in mind for NU.
“We need to take care of business right away, not let this drag on,” Belen said.
The Lady Bulldogs have all the pressure on them and the Lady Falcons none of it, as skipper Louie Romero said after formalizing their No. 3 ranking that “we never expected to be here.”
“This is an opportunity for greatness,” said Adamson coach Jerry Yee, who has some confidence after winning three total sets in two matches with the Lady Bulldogs this season. “That means we have a chance.” INQ
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