MANILA, Philippines—University of Santo Tomas was only a few points away from snapping a four-match losing streak on Wednesday, but could not get the job done and instead fell in straight sets to rival Far Eastern University.
The Tigresses were competitive all the way through, but faltered in the closing stretch each time. The Lady Tamaraws claimed a 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 triumph, handing UST its fifth straight loss and further damaging the España team's hopes of making it to the Final 4 in UAAP Season 80.
"Wala kaming pang-end game," UST star Sisi Rondina said after the game, as she lamented the Tigresses' woes in crunch time of each set.
In the opening frame, they cut a six-point deficit to just two points, 22-20, before FEU's Bernadeth Pons took over and scored two of her team's last three points. In the second set, UST led by one, 19-18, before FEU reeled off six straight points – two of which were service aces by Toni Rose Basas.
The third set was perhaps the most painful. From down 22-17, the Tigresses tied the frame at 22-all thanks to Rondina's powerful kills. A poor serve by Dimdim Pacres pushed FEU ahead, 23-22, but Rondina unleashed a spectacular crosscourt attack that tied the set once again.
But the Tigresses had no answer for Pons, whose off-the-block kill in the next rally sent FEU to match point. And in the end, they were doomed by their inability to receive well, with Czarina Carandang firing an ace to win the match.
"Nakita naman natin na dikit lang 'yung score," said Rondina. "Lapses lang talaga. Isang pitik lang ang nabigay namin sa kanila."
"Kaya pa 'yun eh," she also said.
Rondina, who acknowledged crying after the game, took solace in how UST put up a tough fight against the Lady Tamaraws even as the result did not go in their favor.
"It was a nice game kanina talaga," said Rondina, who was limited to 11 points, with UST unable to give her too many touches. "Kasi kahit ganun man, at least nalaban namin."
"Doon naman kami nagkatalo – wala kaming pang-end game," she stressed. "Sure kami na ta-trabahuin namin 'yun."
UST is now at 2-7 and, with five games left to play in the elimination round, it is unlikely the Tigresses will reach the Final 4. Rondina acknowledged that UST's record is frustrating for her, but is determined to keep on fighting for her teammates and their supporters.
"Hindi naman big deal sa akin na ako lang mag-isa," said Rondina, who insisted that she holds no ill will toward her teammates even as they failed to provide her with enough support in games. "Ang ano ko lang, siyempre nilalaban nila coach kami, and kahit lalaruin na lang namin, hindi pa namin sila kayang ilaban. So doon lang naman ako talaga naf-frustrate."
" 'Yung UST community, kahit ganito na 'yung sitwasyon namin, sobrang naniniwala pa rin sila," she also said. "Doon lang ako nakakalma, kasi although ganito ang nangyayari sa amin, may appreciation pa rin sila sa amin. Thankful pa rin ako na ganoon sila."
Rondina and the Tigresses will try to snap their losing streak on Saturday against University of the Philippines.
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