Settling for tougher title climb amid health woes; Tigresses’ eyes set on the crown
By Rob Andrew Dongiapon
Falling out of the twice-to-beat race and dealing with multiple health woes, the UST Golden Tigresses have no time to lament what was lost as they look to salvage their season versus the number one seed DLSU Lady Spikers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow, May 3.
The fourth seed Tigresses have to win twice over the Lady Spikers, who finished the season with 13 wins and one loss courtesy of UST, to advance to the final four.
To put into context how challenging beating La Salle was, ten of the Lady Archers’ wins this season came off straight sets, while only conceding eight sets in 14 games played.
“La Salle is La Salle. May system sila na matibay. Ipapakita rin namin yung system namin sa UST,” said star spiker Eya Laure, who is one of the frontrunners in the tightly contested season MVP race.
“Of course, lagi naman kapag La Salle at UST may rivalry na ever since dati so motivating pa rin,” Laure added.
Versus UST, however, the Lady Spikers had only won four of the nine sets they played against each other with their first meeting going in favor of the Taft-based team, 3–2, and the second round matchup swinging to the España-based squad, 3–1.
This slate will all be thrown to the bin, though, in the final four, especially when new circumstances have now come forth.
This time, the task of downing the Lady Archers is made even tougher on the UST side with the continued health distress from key players Milena Alessandrini and best libero favorite Detdet Pepito.
Alessandrini and Pepito did not play in the final game of the Golden Tigresses against the UP Fighting Maroons last Sunday, April 30, due to recurring knee pain and dehydration respectively.
“Sabi niya [Alessandrini] sa akin, ‘coach, it’s very painful’, kaya binigay na lang namin yung pahinga sa kanya,” said UST head coach Kungfu Reyes.
Reyes revealed that after their five-set win against the UP Fighting Maroons, Alessandrini’s knee has been a looming problem.
Meanwhile, Pepito has suffered from dehydration since last week, causing her to miss the final regular season game of her sophomore year.
“Sabado pa lang, dehydrated na yung lost bowel movement niya. Hindi na namin sinugal,” Reyes added as the Golden Tigresses finished this season on a 10–4 record despite such injury issues.
In spite of all these concerns entering the final four, coach KungFu chose to be optimistic on their chances, stating his beliefs on the players’ recovery process and hunger to bring home the crown.
“Makaka recover naman,” Reyes simply said on Pepito and Alessandrini.
“Come what may na ‘to for us.”