Ahead of their Final Four matchup against the towering DLSU Lady Spikers, UAAP’s reigning volleyball champions, the UST Golden Tigresses are determined to go beyond the narrative of David defeating Goliath—they want to reign supreme in Season 86.

The Tigresses have an ongoing rivalry with the Lady Spikers, having emerged victorious against them in the Season 81 Final Four but losing in last year’s semifinals.

This season, with a twice-to-beat advantage, the Tigresses are determined to overthrow the Lady Spikers and pave their own path to the championship.

“This is the best chance talaga na mabalik ang crown,” UST’s 5-foot-2 team captain Detdet Pepito said after the Tigresses pummeled DLSU in four sets to clinch a twice-to-beat edge on April 27.

At the start of the season, there was a perception that the Golden Tigresses were unlikely contenders, particularly due to the departure of key players and their relatively small roster.

Now, just one win away from the finals and boasting their best record in 14 years, the Tigresses do not just aim to prove people wrong. They want to prove themselves right.

“‘Yong component ng team na ‘to, kakaiba e. Puro bata,” Pepito said. “Kung titignan natin, parang medyo konti pa ang experience, pero dito talaga makikita na nagbubunga ‘yong mga pinaghirapan namin sa team.”

Head coach Emilio “Kung Fu” Reyes, who achieved his best record as a UST coach this season, expressed his pride in his players for their accomplishments so far.

“Nakuha namin ‘yong ine-aim namin, na hindi lang basta makapasok ng top four nagkaroon pa kami ng twice-to-beat advantage,” he said. “Hindi naging madali ‘yong mga pinagdaananan ng mga bata lalong lalo na at kaharap mo ‘yong defending champion.”

Now in the Final Four, the Tigresses’ journey towards the championship commences on May 5. They only need one victory in a potential two-game series against DLSU, a team they defeated in both matches during the elimination round.

After the elimination rounds, the Tigresses ranked in the top two for the following categories: spiking (37.77 percent success rate), serving (1.48 average per set), and setting (5.06 per set).

UST will be guided by Angeline Poyos, the league’s second-highest scorer with 291 points, setter Cassie Carballo who averages 4.55 sets per set, and defensive specialist Pepito, who averaged 4.20 digs and recorded 312 excellent receptions with a 55.45-percent efficiency.

The Tigresses will face a tough challenge from DLSU, the league’s best blocking team, which averaged 2.62 blocks per set in the eliminations.

Reyes said the Tigresses have a challenging task ahead of them, but they simply need to stick to their system and train diligently.

“Nakuha na namin ‘yong gusto namin…na mag-Final Four, pero nagsisimula pa lang ulit ‘yong [next] chapter namin, kung ano ang gusto naming ilagay sa history books namin.” with reports from Janica Kate J. Buan