Gula ignites Golden Tigresses’ five-set win over FEU

Photo from UAAP Media

OUTSIDE HITTER Xyza Gula emerged as the hero for UST as the Golden Tigresses rallied from a two-set deficit to overcome the FEU Lady Tamaraws in five sets, 22-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20, 15-7, in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday, March 3.

Gula, a second-stringer in this match, stepped up with crucial late-game performances that ignited the Tigresses’ offense and secured the come-from-behind victory at the Mall of Asia Arena.

She blasted with 13 points, including 12 kills and an ace, propelling UST to maintain their perfect 4-0 record.

“Coming from the bench, we are just thinking that we got each others’ backs. If one of our players is off, we are here to play for them,” Gula told The Flame postgame.

UST initially struggled against a strong FEU that unleashed a 4-0 run courtesy of open spiker Gerzel Petallo and middle blocker Mitzi Panangin, dropping the first set at 25-22. 

Rookie Angge Poyos provided early sparks in the second set, but unforced errors proved costly for the Golden Tigresses. This allowed the Lady Tamaraws to capitalize on UST’s 14 out of 40 total errors, resulting in a 25-21 set-win.

Facing a potential sweep with FEU’s four-point lead, 17-13, the Tigresses displayed remarkable resilience. Gula and Mae Coronado found success offensively, pulling UST back into the match by snatching the third set 25-23. 

The fourth set saw UST continue their momentum, with setter Cassie Carballo’s back-to-back successive drop balls and Poyos’ powerful hits setting the stage for a 25-20 win and forcing a decider.

The Golden Tigresses carried their momentum into the fifth set, overwhelming FEU with a dominant 9-point lead. Gula delivered the final blow, securing the hard-fought victory for UST.

“We just recovered from our mistakes in the first and second set and then brought back the aggressiveness and grit of the team,” Gula said. “The enjoyment of the team is also a huge factor so that we can play our real game.”

Poyos emerged as the top scorer for UST with a game-high 24 points. Margaret Banagua and Regina Jurado also contributed significantly with 15 and 13 points, respectively.

UST’s Jonna Perdido, who showed out against La Salle, scored only 10 points after being benched in the third set. Coronado, who saw limited playing time in the first three games, chipped in eight points

FEU middle blocker Jean Asis and open hitter Chenie Tagaod chalked up 15 points apiece. 

The undefeated Tigresses aim to retain their undefeated record as they face the Ateneo Blue Eagles on March 9 at the same arena. F – Shayne Lee Andreas Macaraeg and Nolan Adrian Villamor, Jr.

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