Provido DLSU’s Em Provido: Producing quality numbers of seven kills and seven digs. UAAP photo

La Salle, UST bolster bids for twice-to-beat bonus

April 22, 2024 Theodore P. Jurado 147 views

DEFENDING champion La Salle and University of Santo Tomas got the job done by disposing also-ran foes to bolster their bids for twice-to-beat in the UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Playing with a sense of urgency, the Lady Spikers reasserted their mastery of fabled rival Ateneo, 25-12, 25-12, 25-18, to extend their winning streak against the Blue Eagles to 14 matches.

Rookie Ange Poyos rediscovered her old form as the Tigresses overwhelmed University of the East, 25-19, 25-9, 25-17, to stay on course for a top two finish in the eliminations.

The chase for the two twice-to-beat slots in the Final Four remains hanging in the balance, as La Salle, UST and National University are still tied in first place at 11-2.

The Lady Spikers and the Tigresses duke it out on Saturday, while the Lady Bulldogs go up against Far Eastern University on Wednesday.

The Lady Tamaraws, who have a 9-4 record, will be the fourth-ranked team in the Final Four, as they will face the elimination round topnotcher.

“Saling-pusa kami dun sa tatlo (NU, La Salle, UST) so makikigulo na talaga kami, paninindigan na namin kung ano ba talaga kami,” said coach Kungfu Reyes on the current team standings.

Thea Gagate imposed her will in the middle with a match-best six blocks and 10-of-14 kills to finish with 16 points, Shevana Laput had three blocks for a 15-point showing while Em Provido added seven kills and collected seven digs for the Lady Spikers, who were still without reigning MVP Angel Canino.

“Basta huwag aalis sa sistema, tuloy-tuloy lang,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo.

Zel Tsunashima had six points and five digs, while Lyann de Guzman also logged six kills for the Blue Eagles, who dropped to 4-9.

“Actually, ngayon nga ang ganda ng nilaro nila. Sobrang pulido, although may mga konting lapses towards the third set, pero nung first two sets nakita namin, yun yung hinahanap naming game sa kanila,” said Orcullo.

After playing sparingly in a five-set loss to the Lady Tamaraws last April 13 due to a bout of dehydration, Poyos regained her high-scoring ways by dropping 25 points on 21-of-47 kills and three service aces that went along with four receptions to lead the Tigresses.

“Masaya ako kasi nakabalik ako ng one hundred percent and ayun nga, bounce back win for us kasi nga marami kaming galaw sa FEU na hindi tama. So ayun, binalikan ulit namin and nag-training kami ulit. Thankful kasi nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Poyos.

The Lady Warriors became the first team this season to not reach in double digits in a set, after scoring nine in the second set.

UE started strong in the third, but UST regained its bearings to complete a straight-set romp.

“Well, kapag malinis yung galaw ng mga bata, mas madali yung panalo namin ng puntos. Kapag inulit lang namin, paulit-ulit lang din na nananalo kami ng puntos hanggang sa lumamang kami o makahabol kami,” Reyes said.

Regina Jurado added 11 points, including two aces, and seven digs, setter Cassie Carballo lobbed 17 excellent sets, while libero Det Pepito collected 13 digs and 11 receptions for the Tigresses.

Earlier, UST bounced back from a tough loss to FEU after sweeping also-ran UE, 25-15, 25-21, 25-16.

“Mindset namin since last part na ito ng tournament, all out na kami. Lahat na ng ano namin, lahat na ng pinaghirapan, lahat na ng challenges, ito na yung dulo so gagawin na namin yung the best,” said Golden Spikers assistant coach Ben Mape.

Later, La Salle sent Ateneo packing with a 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-19 victory, handing UST the remaining Final Four berth.

The results also formalized the Final Four pairings, with the top-ranked Tamaraws and the fourth-place Golden Spikers renewing their rivalry, while the Bulldogs and the Green Spikers colliding, with the twice-to-beat slot yet to be settled.

Reigning MVP Josh Ybañez converted 17 of his 29 attack attempts to finish with a game-high 18 points to go along with 11 digs and seven receptions, while Paul Colinares had three blocks for a 12-point outing for UST.

Sherwin Umandal was the other Golden Spikers player in double digits with 11 points, including three blocks.

Vince Maglinao led the way for La Salle with 19 points, nine digs and seven receptions while JM Ronquillo and Noel Kampton each scored 15 points. Nat del Pilar scored seven of his 12 points from blocks.

Games Wednesday

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – Ateneo vs AdU (W)
4 p.m. – NU vs FEU (W)