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Gutierrez steps up as UST foils upstart UP

By Josiah Albelda Posted Dec 4th 2013

Sophomore Jem Gutierrez (number 5) scored a career-high 20 points as the UST Tigresses opened their UAAP 76 campaign with a four-set victory over the UP Lady Maroons.

With their usual scorers now out of the UAAP, University of Santo Tomas needed someone to step up.

Jem Gutierrez was just happy to answer the call.

The sophomore spiker fired a career-high 20 points to lead the Tigresses to a hard-earned 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22 victory over upstart University of the Philippines in the 76th UAAP women's volleyball tournament Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Inserted as a starter following the departure of Maru Banaticla to the pros, Gutierrez delivered 17 kills -- including the daggers late in the fourth set -- while Mela Tunay added 17 markers of 12 hits, three aces and two blocks.

UST, who missed the Final Four in Season 75, found the Lady Maroons a tough nut to crack, even giving up a set but showed more composure in crunch time.

The Tigresses hit just 58 of their 184 spike attempts (31.5%) and committed an eye-popping 32 unforced errors to struggle in their first outing without Banaticla, Judy Caballejo and Maika Ortiz.

But UST's defense was enough to beat UP, who could only convert on 39 of their 163 hits to fall to their 27th defeat in their last 29 games.

Pam Lastimosa chipped in with 12 points for the Tigresses, who also got seven points and 31 excellent sets from skipper Loren Lantin.

Meanwhile, sophomore Kathy Bersola and freshman Nika Ong top scored for the Lady Maroons with 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the young UP starters -- with three rookies and three second-year players -- made a good account of themselves.