By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses survived a tough challenge from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles, 25-22, 25-20, 27-29, 25-21, in the ongoing UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament last April 15, 2023, held at the PhilSports Arena.
With the much-needed victory, the Golden Tigresses further increased their chances of locking a Final Fourth berth and improved to eight wins and three losses.
Imee Hernandez played her best game so far for UST and was just in her zone when she dropped a career-high 24-point production built from 19 successful attacks.
Aside from her rejuvenated scoring performance, the veteran middle blocker also recorded three huge blocks and two service aces.
It didn’t take long for the rolling UST team to pounce on the struggling Ateneo squad after getting the better of them in the first two sets.
Team captain and main gunner Eya Laure kicked off the scoring onslaught for the Golden Tigresses and racked up her second-straight dominant outing in just a week.
Laure backstopped Hernandez with her 27 big points and was just all over the place killing the set balls ran by UST at will.
“This was anybody’s game at ang hirap talunin ng team na ‘to. Ang maganda naman, ‘yung gusto naming mangyari ay doon nagtapos ‘yung laro,” said UST head coach Kungfu Reyes.
UST was looking for another sweeping win against the Blue Eagles but star hitter Faith Nisperos chose violence in the third set and single-handedly took over the game to give her squad hope.
Nisperos went toe-to-toe with Laure in the fourth set that kept the Blue Eagles within striking distance but Hernandez closed the show for the Golden Tigresses.
Despite a 31-point explosion from Nisperos, Ateneo still couldn’t find the answer in containing the duo of Laure and Hernandez that proved to be their kryptonite in the last four possessions.