Xyza Gula of UST over Grace Borromeo and Rhea Densing of CSB

UST holds off CSB, marches on to SSL final four

Vengeful University of Santo Tomas fended off College of St. Benilde, 25-15, 25-16, 19-25, 32-30, in the thrilling knockout duel to catch the last bus in the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship Season 2 Final Four Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.

The Golden Tigresses wasted a huge lead in the fourth set before recovering in time behind the heroics of Regina Jurado, Jonna Perdido and Bianca Plaza for a sweet payback in the extended quarterfinals against the gritty Lady Blazers after a tough five-setter defeat in Game 1.

UST, with a win-once bonus as the No. 2 seed, thus marched on to arrange a semifinal battle against Far Eastern U for a seat in the championship of the SSL Season 2 backed by Mikasa, Eurotel, Victory Liner, Summit Bottle Water, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, R and B Milk Tea, Potato Corner, Rebel Sports, Converge ICT Solutions, Genius Sports and United Auctioneers, Inc.

Reigning champion National U, the only unbeaten team in the tourney, and Adamson are in the other pairing of the knockout Final Four today with the survivors advancing to the best-of-three finale starting on Friday.

Regina Jurado unloaded 16 points on 15 hits, an ace and a block, including a bevy of clutch hits in the fourth set to show the way for UST in replicating a Final Four feat in the inaugural season.

Perdido and Angeline Poyos added 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Plaza made her presence felt down the wire with four points highlighted by the last two points for UST to win the extended duel, 32-30.

“We’re a young team against a veteran St. Benilde squad na two-time NCAA champion. Nakita nyo kung gaano sila ka-solid, ayaw talaga bumitaw. Nanalo kami sa disgrasya. Nadisgrasya namin sila sa huling palo kasi lahat ng set-up at attacks at combination play namin, nakapag-adjust sila,” said UST mentor Kungfu Reyes.

“Credits to St. Benilde. ‘Yun nga, we’re a young team and nahatak kami ng natahak going into the semis. Malaking bagay sa amin ito lalo twice-to-beat kami, tapos twice beaten. ‘Yun sana ang branding namin.”

On the heels of a 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 11-15 loss in Game 1, UST imposed its will early by taking a commanding 2-0 lead only to cool down in the third set with a 25-19 defeat as two-time reigning NCAA champion St. Benilde proved its pedigree once again.

The Golden Tigresses moved on verge of a quick 3-1 victory with a 24-21 lead in the fourth only to witness another Lady Blazers’ fightback two force a deuce and even snatch the driver’s seat at 27-26 off a Gayle Pascual hit.

Jurado and Perdido took turns in neutralizing Rhea Mae Densing’s late hammers for a 30-all score before Plaza, who just subbed in the match for blocking purposes, uncorked two straight surprise attacks to lift UST to the hard-earned win.

Pascual and Densing fired 16 and 15 points, respectively, for St Benilde under the watch of coach Jerry Yee. 

Meanwhile, Ateneo takes on St. Benilde in the other bracket of the classification matches with University of the East and Arellano playing as of press time for the 5th-8th spots in the SSL Season 2 in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education and the Philippine Sports Commission.

All SSL Season 2 games are accessible across all platforms live and on-demand through the social media pages of Plus Network and SSL with Solar Sports, Blast TV and Aliw Channel 23 as TV partners.

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