The unbeaten streak continues for the UST Golden Tigresses as they take down the Ateneo Blue Eagles in a five set thriller, 25-15, 27-25, 23-25, 26-28, 15-13, in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, March 20. (Photo by Rainiel Angelyn B. Figueroa/ The Varsitarian)

THE UST Golden Tigresses averted disaster after outlasting the pesky Ateneo Blue Eagles in five sets, 25-15, 27-25, 23-25, 26-28, 15-13, in their UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament second-round opener at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, March 20.

The Tigresses remained unbeaten, improving their league-best record to 8-0, while Ateneo dropped to a 2-6 slate.

UST opened the gates scorching hot, banking on 15 attacks and five blocks to secure a dominant first-set win, 25-15.

Trailing Ateneo by four in the second frame, 22-18, the Tigresses turned the table and went on a 9-3 blitz to snatch the set, 27-25. 

The game remained tight in the next two sets, but the Blue Eagles were able to eliminate UST’s two-sets-to-none advantage and force a decider after escaping the Tigresses in the third set, 25-23, and in the fourth period, 28-26.

In a tense moment with Ateneo trailing by two late in the final set, 13-11, Geezel Tsunashima delivered two consecutive kills to even the score at 13-all. However, Jonna Perdido responded with two consecutive points that secured UST’s undefeated record.

“Another great experience ‘to para sa mga young guns namin,” UST head coach Emilio “Kung-Fu” Reyes said postgame. “Medyo challenging ‘tong game na ‘to kasi na-test ‘yong mga bata e. Luckily, gumagana ‘yong blockings namin, lalo na sa fifth set, kaya nanalo pa rin.”

UST dominated Ateneo in blocking, tallying 14 blocks compared to Ateneo’s five. Despite this, the Tigresses, who ranked third in spiking after the first round, scored fewer attack points with 66 compared to the Blue Eagles’ 72.

Angeline Poyos led the Tigresses anew with 22 points, while Regina Jurado and Perdido chipped in 19 and 17 points, respectively. 

Star setter Cassie Carballo not only orchestrated UST’s offense with 26 excellent sets but also scored a career-high 10 points.

Lyann De Guzman paced the Blue Eagles with 22 points, while Tsunashima and Sophia Buena tallied 21 points apiece. 

The UST Golden Tigresses will next face the NU Lady Bulldogs at the same venue on March 24, Sunday, at 4 p.m.