NO Milena Alessandrini? No problem for University of Santo Tomas.
Rallying around a fallen teammate, an inspired Tigresses side pinned on defending champion La Salle its first consecutive defeats in almost four years with a 25-20, 25-22, 25-17 victory last night in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Veteran Sisi Rondina had 19 points, including two blocks, and 14 receptions while rookie Eya Laure chipped in 15 hits and 17 digs for UST.
Dimdim Pacres, making her first start in lieu of Alessandrini who is sidelined with a knee injury, was able to fill up the void with eight points and 13 points.
Earlier, rookie Lycha Ebon continued her solid play as Far Eastern University outlasted University of the East, 25-15. 24-26, 25-22, 20-25, 15-9, for its first back-to-back wins of the season.
Ebon had a career-high 21 points, including the match-clinching spike, to go with three service aces as the Lady Tamaraws tied the Lady Spikers and the Tigresses, while handing the Lady Warriors their fourth loss in five contests.
It was La Salle’s first back-to-back setbacks since losing to Ateneo in the best-of-three championship series on March 11 and 14, 2015.
The shell-shocked Lady Spikers simply were not able to match the determination and agressiveness of the Tigresses, who all donned signature hair buns like Alessandrini.
“Big win para sa amin. Dedicated namin ang laban para kay Amiga. Physically and mentally, na-prepare namin ang mga bata,” said UST mentor Kungfu Reyes, referring to Alessandrini’s nickname. ”Naging motivation namin ang pagkawala ni Milena.”
Aduke Ogunsanya, Norielle Ipac and Jolina dela Cruz each scored eight markers for La Salle, which also lost to University of the Philippines last Saturday.
In the men’s division, RJ Paler and JP Bugaoan teamed up for 23 hits as FEU stretched its perfect run to five games with a 25-10, 25-21, 25-18 romp of UE, while UST, behind Jao Umandal’s 18 points, downed La Salle, 25-22, 25-18, 25-17, to improve at 3-2 in solo fourth.
The Lady Warriors rallied from a 16-20 deficit in the fourth to extend the match and were ahead, 7-4, when the Lady Tamaraws displayed tremendous composure behind Ebon’s clutch plays to prevail.
Unlike a previous five-set loss to Ateneo, FEU was able to withstood intense pressure this time.
”Yung maturity, especially yung fifth set,” said Lady Tamaraws coach George Pascua.
FEU’s middle hitters also shone, as Ced Domingo had six blocks for a 17-point outing while Nette Villareal chipped in 10 points, including five blocks.
Meanne Mendrez played her best game this season with 21 points, Judith Abil chipped in 10 points, 28 digs and 24 receptions while Seth Rodriguez also had 10 points, including three blocks, for UE.