With undisclosed injuries hampering them, defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers needed an all-around effort to overcome a career performance from Cherry Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses in five sets, 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8, at the the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers went into the match with veteran opposite hitter Kianna Dy sidelined by a knee injury. La Salle’s play went up and down with each set, while the Tigresses fed off the energy of Rondina.
Both squads traded set wins, with UST carrying all the momentum following a rousing win in the fourth set. The Lady Spikers raced ahead in the final frame, grabbing a 7-2 lead before UST crept back. The Tigresses pulled in clutch points from Rondina to come within three, 7-10. But the Lady Spikers controlled the last ebb of the match, with their main rotation grabbing five of the last six points.
“Ever since the UniGames, hirap na talaga kami kalaban ang UST. Mahirap din na mag-adjust na biglaan kaming nagpalit ng player,” said La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus, who revealed Dy is still recovering from a right knee hyper-extension.
Team captain Majoy Baron towed the Lady Spikers with 19 points built on 12 attacks, five blocks, and two aces. Desiree Cheng added 12 markers.
Rondina finished with 28 points, her second-best output in the UAAP. Rookie Fil-Italian stalwart Milena Alessandrini added 18 markers in her debut.
The Lady Spikers next face the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Tigresses will try to bounce back on Wednesday when they take on the University of the East Lady Warriors.
DLSU (3) – Baron 19, Cheng 12, Ogunsanya 10, Dy 9, Tiamzon 9, Cobb 6, Layug 2, Luna 2, Tiu 2, Saga 0, Macandili (L)
UST (2) – Rondina 28, Alessandrini 18, Pacres 6, Bicar 4, Palec 3, Francisco 2, Viray 1, Bangad 0, Dizon 0, Sandoval 0, Rivera (L)