Bella Belen and Detdet Pepito –MARLO CUETO/

University of Santo Tomas coach KungFu Reyes has never been shy in saying that he never considered his Golden Tigresses to be a top two team in Season 86 of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

“We never had any expectations, but since we are already here, we might as well go for it,” Reyes said Saturday night after a classic 22-25, 25-23, 25-16, 25-15 win over La Salle in front of 14, 939 roaring fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum gave them No. 2 seeding and a twice-to-beat privilege in the Final Four, which will also be against the Lady Spikers.

And for a team that has played practically pressure-free the entire season, Reyes has just one pronouncement: “As long as we are healthy and at 100 percent, we will keep on performing at any cost.”

National University (NU) finished at the top by virtue of a superior points total over Santo Tomas after both carved out 12-2 records, and the Lady Bulldogs will also have that win-once edge over Far Eastern in the semifinals.

Bulldogs superstar Bella Belen has made their battle cry known right after it was determined who they will be facing.

“When we hear twice-to-beat, it gives us players a comforting feeling. But we should not reach the point that we have to use that,” said Belen as the Bulldogs battle the Lady Tams at the start of the Final Four on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum. National also swept Far Eastern in the eliminations.

Norman Miguel, the National U coach, also wants to get it done that day as the Bulldogs try to make the Finals for the third straight year and win it all for the second time.

“The twice-to-beat advantage is a huge thing. But then, for us, we don’t look at it too much as an advantage,” Miguel said. “Starting Game 1, we need to go all-out and finish the game.”Surprise No. 3

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While the sides in the Final Four are made up of those penciled to be there before the season started, it is a surprise that La Salle is No. 3 after losses to National and Santo Tomas.

Even after sweeping defending champion La Salle in their two meetings this season, the Tigresses have kept their feet on the ground.

The Lady Spikers reactivated Angel Canino on Saturday and saw a relatively good performance, something that could help them in the Final Four, especially if they drag it to a deciding second game.

La Salle, though, has everything to lose as the defending champion playing an opponent that has practically gained everything even before the playoffs start.

And that is what Reyes and the Tigresses are riding on.

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“The components of this team are different, most are young and may seem less experienced,” said libero and skipper Detdet Pepito, who as a junior, is the most seasoned among these plucky Tigresses. “We can see all our hard work as a team bear fruit.” INQ

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