University of Santo Tomas checked an impending skid with a gutsy stand in the decider, hacking out a 25-20, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 15-13 decision over University of the Philippines to bolster its semifinal bid in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena on Wednesday.
The Tigers blew a 2-0 set lead but recovered in time and pulled through in a tight fifth-set duel to catch the idle defending champion Ateneo Eagles at the Group B helm with a 3-0 card.
Perpetual Help likewise squandered a big lead but nipped a tough defending St. Benilde side just the same, 25-23, 25-23, 14-25, 19-25, 15-12, to notch its third straight win in Group A of the two-division tournament organized by Sports Vision.
The Altas actually lost in three scoring skills, 54-58 (spikes), 6-8 (blocks) and 5-6 (serve) but got the breaks and key hits down the stretch to pound out the near-two-hour victory and firm up their own semifinal drive. The Blazers dropped to 0-3.
Earlier, five players churned out double-digit scores for the Tigers, who outhit the Maroons, 61-45, in spikes but struggled in the face of their rivals’ superb blocking, which netted the Diliman-based squad 14 blocks, eight more than UST.
But the Tigers proved steadier in the end, outlasting the Maroons for the victory that augured well for their upcoming face-off with the Eagles on Saturday.
UP slid to 2-1.
Manuel Medina fired 17 hits, including 15 kills, while Jomaru Amagan came through with 15 markers, Arnold Bautista Jr. and Jireh Buro each had 14 points, while Tyrone Carodan added 10 hits for UST, which also produced 50 excellent digs, including 10 from Medina.
Timothy Tajanlangit likewise shone for UST with 59 excellent sets, 14 more than counterpart Charles Acuna, but the Tigers wavered in the third and fourth sets, enabling the Maroons to turn the match into a thrilling finish.
Alfred Valbuena put in a game-high 20 points while Mark Millete had 16 markers but the rest of the Maroons failed to score in double-digits with Julius Raymundo, Niccolo Consuelo and Gian San Pascual tossing in nine, seven and six points, respectively.