UAAP Volleyball

‘Mini Miss UST’ defies odds anew, books quick UAAP Final Four return with young core

JR Isaga

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‘Mini Miss UST’ defies odds anew, books quick UAAP Final Four return with young core

STAR TIGRESSES. UST spiker Angge Poyos (left) and libero captain Detdet Pepito react in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

UAAP Season 86 Media Team

With big-heart youngsters like Angge Poyos in tow, UST captain Detdet Pepito is nothing but proud as the underdog Tigresses shatter expectations on the way back to the UAAP Final Four

MANILA, Philippines – Too small. No veterans. No star power.

The UST Golden Tigresses have heard it all before their UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball campaign kicked off, with many fans – for good reason – being somewhat skeptical of their ability to retain their title-contention status.

However, just one year removed from losing veteran stars Eya Laure, Imee Hernandez, and Milena Alessandrini, this young batch of Tigresses have easily won back hearts and erased all doubts as they were the first in line to book a Final Four ticket off a four-set win over Adamson on Wednesday, April 3.

Largely thanks to super freshman Angge Poyos‘ rookie-record 31-point explosion, UST now holds an impressive 9-1 record, successfully bouncing back from its streak-snapping loss against fellow contender NU last March 24.

One of the few remaining veterans, libero captain Detdet Pepito, couldn’t be prouder that her young proteges quickly bought in to the underdog winning culture the Tigresses are trying to keep since the days of Laure and Sisi Rondina.

“We keep on saying that we didn’t expect to be in this position,” she said in Filipino after the 22-25, 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 win.

“I’m happy because a lot were saying before that we’re ‘Mini Miss UST’ and that we’d get destroyed by other teams, but we’re happy that we keep on proving that it’s not about height, it’s about heart.”

Even head coach Kungfu Reyes, who has seen it all in his tenure as Golden Tigresses coach, was still surprised that they were able to cruise past the competition so far with big wins one after another.

“We’re just surprised that we’re already here at 9-1. We’re surprised of the results, but not of the way we got there, because that’s already how we move in practice,” he said in Filipino.

“We’re just gauging their performances in their last few games, but I can really see that their hard work is really paying off.”

Meanwhile, Poyos, who quickly reset UE star Casiey Dongallo’s 30-point rookie record, is just thankful that she quickly healed from her pre-Holy Week injuries and was able to rebound from their painful first loss against the mighty Lady Bulldogs.

“I’m thankful for this comeback game and I’m thankful that I was able to contribute to the team,” she said after tallying 27 attacks, 3 aces, and 1 block. “I’m thankful we were able to rally back and I’m thankful for my ates who keep on fighting for me and the team.”

“Mini Miss UST” now has a golden chance for the coveted twice-to-beat advantage with four elimination round games left, and the Tigresses know it’s a foolish endeavor now to lose sight of the ultimate goal at this stage of the tournament.

“We’ll just keep grinding. That’s all it is. That’s just our baseline,” Reyes continued. “How we prepare, that’s one of the good results we keep on seeking. We will polish our skills, regroup, correct our unforced errors, sharpen our skills.”

“Tomorrow, we just go back to training.”

The job is not finished, after all. –

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