UAAP: UST pushes Ateneo to brink of elimination, claims share of No. 2 in women’s volleyball

Eya Laure Imee Hernandez UST Tigresses

UST Tigresses’ Eya Laure and Imee Hernandez. MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines-University of Santo Tomas frustrated at Ateneo side in survival mode, 25-22, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21, and inched closer to a Final Four appearance in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament at the Philsports Arena on Saturday night.

Eya Laure rescued the Tigresses from an inconsistent fourth set and finished with 27 points, highlighted by 23 attacks, apart from posting four blocks while Imee Hernandez added a career-high 24 points built around 19 attacks on top of three blocks and two aces.

β€œI just did my role in the team. But of course we cannot be satisfied with this victory. We have to play better compared to our output today,” said Hernandez.

After claiming their eighth victory out of 11 games following a long break of nearly two weeks, the Tigresses have tied the Adamson Lady Falcons at second place behind tournament leader La Salle, which sits idly at 9-1.

β€œIt was everybody’s game out there. It was really difficult to beat this team (Ateneo) because they have players who can really deliver,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes. “With this win, we are now close to achieving our goal of making it to the Final Four.”

Rookie Cassie Carballo masterminded the UST offense with 24 excellent sets, hitters Milena Alessandrini and Regina Jurado had 10 points each, and Bernadett Pepito contributed 22 digs as the Tigresses foiled an outstanding performance by Faith Nisperos.

Successive hits by Nisperos pulled Ateneo within two in the opening frame after Hernandez’s down-the-line strike towed the Tigresses at set point.

Though Laure and Hernandez compiled most of UST’s attacks in the first set, it was Alessandrini’s energetic thump off a blocking AC Miner that seal the deal for the Tigresses.

The Blue Eagles then engaged their rivals in a long tenacious exchange as Vanessa Gandler and Lyann De Guzman amped the Ateneo offense.

Nisperos forced the last deadlock at 18 in the second set with a timely strike, but the Tigresses rattled off six consecutive points with a variety of attacks capped by Jurado’s piercing crosscourt hit to the delight of the UST faithful.

Hernandez helped the Tigresses climb from a 6-2 hole in the third set highlighted by a pair of down-the-line spikes and an ace that knotted the count at seven.

What ensued next was another intensely protracted back-and-forth contest between both schools with Ateneo extricating itself from the stalemate anchored on Nisperos, whose crosscourt kill at set point extended the match.

The Blue Eagles came close to snaring the fourth set, but Laure would have none of it after she pulled out the Tigresses from a 20-18 deficit.

After Laure’s back-to-back attacks, Alessandrini aced it and another powerful cross by Laure put them within a point of ending the encounter. Hernandez blocked a Nisperos strike on the next sequence, finishing off the Blue Eagles for good.

Nisperos registered a season-high 31 points, including 29 attacks, and had two blocks for the Blue Eagles.

Absorbing its seventh loss, Ateneo’s fate to progress to the Final Four is no longer on his hands since a National University (7-3) victory over the Far Eastern University on Sunday will shut the semifinal door on the Blue Eagles.

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