Powered by a career performance from rookie Cherry Rondina, the UST Tigresses snapped their five-game losing streak with a resounding 21-25, 27-25, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Espana rivals, FEU Lady Tams at the San Juan Arena.
Brought off the bench sporadically in their past games, UST Beach Volleyball MVP Cherry Rondina came off the bench for fellow rookie Ennajie Laure and sparked UST with a career-high 16 points off 14 spikes, a block and an ace. UST team captain Pam Lastimosa struggled early but came through in moments when her team needed her most, amassing a game-high 17 markers. Fellow veteran Mela Tunay was hot early but petered late in the game, still managing to pitch in 15 points.
UST fought through a sizable error difference, giving up 37 to FEU’s 21 by spiking the blood out of the ball, burning the net for 59 spikes to FEU’s 41.
Errors from both sides marred the start of the match. UST pulled away momentarily, building a 14-11 lead with their spiking, only to relinquish the lead after consecutive errors. FEU wound up taking a 16-15 advantage into the second technical timeout. A consistent stream of Thomasina errors kept FEU at front, eventually taking a 22-20 lead. Two consecutive earth-rattling spikes from Bernadette Pons and a miscue from UST’s Rondina and Alexine Cabanos sealed the set for FEU.
Rondina powered the Thomasinas to an early two point lead, but UST’s stream of errors kept flowing into the second set, allowing FEU to keep pace. UST dug themselves an 11-14 hole only to be pulled out by more of Rondina’s high flying escapades. An FEU attack error put UST in front, 17-16. FEU answered UST’s run by controlling the action at the net with impervious blocking, bolting ahead, 21-17. After coming out of the game in the first set due to a collision with one of the net stands, UST captain Lastimosa reentered the match and led a rally that pushed her team to within a point of the lead at 21-22. Consecutive aces from Cabanos then an FEU net error placed UST at set point. A Cabanos service error followed by two Tunay attack errors, gave FEU the advantage at deuce. UST, despite their sloppy play, found a way to claim their first set, following a Tunay hit off the block with a Lastimosa ace then a rainbow drop from Rondina.
The Thomasinas rode their momentum into the third set, tightening up their defense for an early 11-5 lead. The Tigresses shifted the gear on their offense while limiting their errors to pump their lead up to 19-9. Another Rondina aerial display quelled a feisty FEU comeback and pushed UST to its second set win.
Three early spikes from Lastimosa kept UST ahead, 8-5, heading into the first technical timeout. FEU middle blocker Geneveve Casugod controlled the pace of the set with her blocking, bringing the Tams to a 13-13 standstill. Coach Odjie Mamon then inserted Claudia Cortez for Tunay, sparking a run that propelled the Tigresses to a 19-15 lead. A pair of UST attacking errors followed by a Pons spike pulled FEU to within a point of UST. UST vets Lastimosa and Jesse De Leon responded by converting several spikes which put their team ahead, 22-19. FEU’s Remy Palma and Toni Rose Basas quickly countered with a run of their own to tie the game. A Lastimosa spike followed by her own service error tied the game at 23-23 but UST’s De Leon and Cortez drove UST home with clutch spikes to seal the game.
The win places UST at 7th place, ahead of the struggling Lady Warriors while FEU now sits at 3-4, tied with the red-hot Lady Maroons.
UST- Lastimosa 17, Rondina 16, Tunay 15, Meneses 11, De Leon 7, Laure 5, Cortez 4, Cabanos 2, Alterado 0, Dusaran (L) 0.
FEU- Basas 13, Pons 12, Casugud 10, Palma 7, Guino-O 4, Simborio 2, Amaro 2, Papa 1, Dawson 1, Agno (L) 0, Atienza (L) 0