Golden Tigresses survive Blue Eagles scare, continue perfect run

Photo by Jessica Luna/THE FLAME

THE UST Golden Tigresses’ quest for an undefeated season remains intact after surviving a scare from the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament Round 2 opener on Wednesday.

UST managed to evade a reverse sweep and rallied to win a five-set thriller, 25-15, 27-25, 23-25, 28-26, 15-13, extending its winning streak to eight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite some unforced errors, the Tigresses showed their championship mettle by clawing their way back from the brink of defeat.

The Tigresses started strong in the first set, with rookie ace Angge Poyos and open hitter Jonna Perdido leading the charge. Perdido’s three consecutive attacks propelled UST to an early 8-3 lead.

Aggressive plays and a solid defense helped them maintain a comfortable advantage throughout the set. Open hitter Renee Peñafiel closed it out with a powerful spike through Ateneo’s blockers, giving UST a commanding 25-15 win.

The Blue Eagles tried to snatch the Tigresses’ momentum with a 4-1 run, but Perdido’s well-timed block ended the second frame, giving UST its 2-0 set lead, 27-25.

Undeterred by UST’s early dominance, Ateneo’s trio of wingers – Sophia Buena, Geezel Tsunashima, and Lyann de Guzman – showcased their offensive prowess to steal the third set, 25-23.

De Guzman continued her strong showing in the fourth set, exploiting weaknesses in the Tigresses’ block to force a decider, 28-26.

The tension was palpable in the final set. However, UST setter Cassie Carballo’s well-placed dropball and a service ace gave the Tigresses a crucial 11-8 lead.

Perdido then stepped up with back-to-back crosscourt kills to seal the victory for UST, 15-13.

Poyos carried UST’s offense with 22 points from 21 attacks and a block. Opposite hitter Reg Jurado and Perdido chipped in 19 and 17 markers, respectively.

Ateneo had three double-digit scorers, led by Lyann de Guzman with 22 points, while Tsunashima and Sophia Buena contributed 21 and 20.

Despite the unblemished record, Reg Jurado acknowledged the Tigresses’ need for adjustments in the game to reduce their errors.

“We just told ourselves to try to recover because each team is getting stronger in the second round. They were already able to make adjustments,” Jurado said in an interview with The Flame.

The Tigresses aim to maintain their immaculate slate when they face the NU Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, March 24, at the same venue. F – Ayanna Dezyrein Zoleta

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