The University of Santo Tomas Tigress’ Cherry Rondina and Jem Gutierrez made the most of their sweep advantage and overwhelmed the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws’ Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza in Game One of the UAAP Women’s Beach Volleyball Finals 21-17, 21-9 at the Sands SM by the Bay at the SM Mall of Asia grounds.
The Lady Tams had just avenged their Finals loss last year to the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, sweeping Tin Tiamzon and Kim Fajardo in their do-or-die match 21-17, 21-15 minutes before Game One of the Finals. FEU also played two matches yesterday.
UST, on the other hand, played just one match yesterday, defeating the Lady Tams to secure the elimination round sweep. The ladies from España went into Game One fresh.
But UST captain Cherry Rondina believed that their conditioning did not play a factor in their win.
“Ang FEU naman po kasi malakas ang [cardio] nila. Hindi sila basta-basta napapagod,” Rondina told Tiebreaker Times. “Sa totoo lang po, kinakabahan po talaga kami noong mag-start ‘yung game kasi nga Finals na. Hindi kami makapaniwala na nandito kami agad. Mabuti na lang po at nakapag-focus kami agad.”
The Tigresses did start slow, needing a timeout in the first set to settle their nerves after giving up a 1-6 lead to FEU. But, after the break, the Tigresses had full control of the rest of the match. Gutierrez cleaned up her reception, opening opportunities for Rondina to finish 1-2 plays or deliver crisp sets to Gutierrez. Rondina was her usual omnipresent self on defense, picking digs and quickly transitioning to strong attacks.
The Tigresses last won the title in Season 77 with the rookie pair of Rondina and Rica Rivera shocked spectators with an elimination round win and a decisive triumph over La Salle’s Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo in the Finals.
Game Two will be tomorrow at 9 am still at the Sands, SM by the Bay.