UST shocks DLSU in five grueling sets to keep undefeated record in UAAP volleyball

What a gutsy win for the girls from España! (John Mauricio/UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Heart over height became the major storyline of the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball tournament main event last February 25, 2024, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

In a highly-anticipated clash of the titans, it was the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses who prevailed over the heavily-favored De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Archers, 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 15-12.

With the morale-boosting victory, the Golden Tigresses just kept its untainted UAAP Women’s volleyball record while also becoming the only undefeated team in the tournament.

The Golden Tigresses quickly changed the perspective of the majority of the UAAP volleyball fans after putting up a defensive clinic to secure the opening set.

Spearheaded by their team captain and libero Detdet Pepito, UST fortified its floor coverage defense to deny the Lady Archers any easy points from their set offensive plays.

Those tremendous defensive digs and excellent receptions then turned into instant offense for UST. Answering the call to shoulder the point barrage for the Golden Tigresses were Jonna Perdido and Angge Poyos.

The 1-2 punch of UST was crafty enough to vary their point of attack to neutralize the tall DLSU frontline. Instead of unleashing powerful hits, Perdido and Poyos used the opponent’s blocking hands to produce their points.

UST’s two-way efficiency was still on full display in the second set and were on the verge of sweeping the defending champions when they went up, 2-0.

Just when the Golden Tigresses thought that the game would be a walk in the park, the reigning queens of the UAAP showed their true character and completed a comeback for the ages from a 0-2 deficit.

DLSU received an All-Star performance from Rookie MVP Angel Canino who just pummeled her way against the UST defense.

With the game now equalized at 2-2 and a fifth deciding set already commenced, the Golden Tigresses found themselves in deep trouble and were close to collapsing after DLSU opened up a 7-3 advantage.

However, after UST noticed that Canino was in the back row due to the rotation change, head coach Kung Fu Reyes emphasized to his wards the need to capitalize on the lack of attack from the Lady Archers.

From a 9-11 deficit, the Golden Tigresses stepped on the gas pedal and stunned the Lady Archers with a 6-1 scoring run in the final crucial stretch of the extension set to officially bag the win.

Perdido led the charge for UST with 24 points derived from 21 successful attacks alongside three blocks and five excellent receptions.

Meanwhile, Pepito, who wrapped up another outing with a defensive masterclass, contributed 18 excellent receptions and 12 excellent digs.

Poyos joined UST’s hitting party with 22 points built from 20 successful attacks while Margaret Banagua chipped in 11 markers.