Philippine Daily Inquirer

NO POYOS, NO PROBLEM

Save for third-set hiccup, Tigresses show they can make do without their ace with convincing win over Maroons

- By Angel B. Dukha III @ThirdyINQ

With their eyes now trained at a twice-tobeat edge, University of Santo Tomas’ Golden Tigresses didn’t let being one star rookie down get in their way.

After being the first team to claim a Final Four seat in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, the Tigresses are smelling blood and are simply refusing to veer away from their focus even with prolific rookie Angge Poyos sidelined because of dehydratio­n.

“Part of our motivation was our missing vital players,” Regina Jurado told the Inquirer after Santo Tomas shrugged off a third-set hiccup in pulling out a 25-14, 25-13, 28-30, 25-15 victory over eliminated University of the Philippine­s on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Tigresses kept their composure against the Fighting Maroons with Poyos missing her first game and starting middle blocker Em Banagua out for a second outing with an undisclose­d knee injury.

“Before starting this game, we knew that even if we are missing players, we can still pull through because it’s still about team effort,” Jurado added after one of her best performanc­es of 24 points from 21 attacks and three blocks. “We don’t need only one player to carry the team.”

After stringing up another winning streak on the heels of a reality check from National University, Santo Tomas reclaimed top spot at 10-1, a game of the Angel Canino-less La Salle crew and two games in front of the Lady Bulldogs who are battling Final Four hopeful Ateneo at press time.

Another Tigress who stepped up was Jonna Perdido, who also had 24 points to match her career-best.

Completing their sked

The Tigresses have three games left, two of them against teams also in Final Four contention in Far Eastern and University of the East. And they know that they can’t take their foot off the gas, like what happened in the third set against the Maroons.

“Some of our recurring problems are loss of confidence and getting complacent during the game,” Jurado said. “We really need our grit more than ever bewas cause aside from our goal to be in the Final Four, we also want to maintain our position at the top.”

The Tigresses are not allowing themselves to look too far ahead, especially with a return match with the Lady Spikers— with or without Canino—to end the preliminar­ies.

“Very obvious that we are ready for the Final Four, but we need to focus one game at a time,” coach KungFu Reyes said in a separate interview. “We still need to give respect to each of our foes because the level of competitio­n is high. Everyone is giving double or triple effort.”

And as far as Jurado is concerned, Santo Tomas will be ready for anyone.

“We just need to do our best,” Jurado said. “And focus on what we’re best at, what we’re good at.”

 ?? —UAAP PHOTO ?? The Tigresses celebrate their latest win without a familiar face on the floor.
—UAAP PHOTO The Tigresses celebrate their latest win without a familiar face on the floor.

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