UST Tigresses. SSL PHOTO
MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas leaned on its rising stars Xyza Gula, Pierre Abellana, and Regina Jurado to stave off a stubborn University of the Philippines side, 27-25, 26-28, 25-18, 22-25, 17-15, and bag the last semifinal berth in the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship on Sunday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
The new breed of Tigresses continued to emerge in the absence of Eya Laure, who is currently on vacation in the United States, with Xyza Gula stepping up when it mattered most with 20 points, including the clutch kills in the fifth set.
UST forged a knockout semis showdown with unbeaten National University on Friday, while La Salle and Adamson clash for the other championship berth for the November 19 winner-take-all finale.
Abellana also rose to the occasion, scoring five points in the deciding set and pushing UST at match point, 14-12. However, the Tigresses committed a catch-and-throw violation followed by Ethan Arce’s big block on Gula to equalize the frame, 14-all.
Gula brought UST back on top but Jewel Encarnacion broke their net defense to force another tie. The UST rookie rose to nail another kill to reach match point anew, 15-14, before Jurado delivered the semis-clinching cross-court attack.
“We played our hearts out. We did our best and we didn’t give up,” said Gula in Filipino after drilling 17 spikes and three service aces. “We want to prove that we’re not just rookies. We are super rookies who can also play at their high level.”
Jurado also scored 20 points built on 16 attacks and four aces, while Abellana finished with 16 markers, including three aces.
Pia Abbu also contributed to UST with six attacks, three aces, and a block for 10 points.