UST Golden Tigresses look impressive in V-League debut
by rick olivares
Since their last championship year in the UAAP – and that was in 2010 – the question surrounding the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses is can they put it all together? They have had very good teams since but have mostly underachieved.
This season with a veteran crew back for another go-around and considering they will be losing some key players after this year, the question is, is it this year where they breakthrough and fulfill their promise?
Las Saturday, October 1, this team made an impressive debut in the Reinforced Conference of the Shakey’s V-League where they took down in four sets (25-15, 20-25, 25-13, 25-21) a veteran Philippine Air Force team that most recently made the finals of the Open Conference that kicked off this season.
Both sides fielded an incomplete line-up. Unavailable for PAF were middle hitters Judy Caballejo and Jen Manzano while for UST, Pam Lastimosa, Cherry Rondina, and Christine Francisco were not in the venue.
What was impressive about UST’s win was their much improved serve, floor defense, and the strong presence of key players.
Opponents would previously target EJ Laure because of her suspect receiving. Laure, now on her third playing year, was superb despite having problems with her contact lens. Libero Patricia Rasmo was also solid in her digs. With the improved floor defense, a lot of what the Jet Spikers threw at them they returned.
Their serve had PAF struggling all game long. As a result, it took Joy Cases and Me-Ann Pantino some time to get their game going. And setter Wendy Semana had an uncharacteristic bad game.
As for the strong play… I always thought that Chloe Cortez (12 points) gave some quality minutes last season coming off the bench. In this game, she provided obvious leadership on the court and solid play on both ends. Alex Cabanos despite looking like she gained weight was excellent with 58 excellent sets! Ria Meneses was inconsistent early on but picked up her game eventually (she finished with 15 points with 2 coming from blocks).
However, the player I was really impressed with was sophomore Carla Sandoval (19 points, tied with Laure). The second year player out of King’s Montessori moved to the open position (that will no doubt be occupied by Rondina when she returns) where she pounded PAF. She played with an exuberance that is close to Rondina’s and her play was infectious. She showed that she could hit from different positions including the back row. She was likewise effective in her serve and in defense. She was also vocal on the court playing both offense and defense. The makings of a future team captain?
Sandoval’s play overshadowed Rica Rivera who was mostly kept on the bench. Nevertheless, I expect Rivera to also kick it up another notch.
Coach Kungfu Reyes looks to have a talented squad that could go 11 deep for this coming UAAP. For now, the Golden Tigresses will showcase their wares in this Reinforced Conference.
|Carla Sandoval was the best player for UST in its win over PAF.|