The Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws broke away from a muddled chase for a Final Four spot in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament, edging out the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses 20-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-20 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Tams allowed UST to easily build a lead in the first set. FEU’s initial lineup with Kyle Negrito as setter just did not work. UST, trotting out their usual tall six, erected a five-point lead, 16-11. Slotting in veteran setter Gyzelle Sy, the FEU offense hummed. Carried by Bernadeth Pons’ attacking, the Lady Tams managed to trim the lead down to one, 18-19, before the wheels came off their wagon. After a pair of attack errors, Ej Laure ticked off two more spikes to push UST to a 23-19 lead. FEU’s errors gave UST the set.
But that was the last of UST’s strong effort as FEU stepped up their offensive game. The Lady Tams strategically varied their hits, mixing in off-speed hits that dumbfounded the UST defense. The Lady Tams surged ahead early in the second set and never looked back. FEU then recorded a season-high 18 hits in the third set alone to take the lead in sets. The Tigresses valiantly tried to keep up in the fourth set to no avail. A string of attack errors from FEU erased a four-point deficit and tied the match at 11. From there, Bernadeth Pons and Remy Palma took over, leading a 5-0 run that placed them comfortably ahead. After exhausting all their timeouts early, UST had no way of stopping their skid as FEU got match point at 24-16. Carmela Tunay led a last ditch rally but Alina Bicar threw away an attempted dump ball to end the match.
After tallying a career-high 30 points in their last outing, Bernadeth Pons again led her squad with 20 markers off 17 attacks, a block, and two aces. Sophomores Toni Basas and Jerrili Malabanan tallied 12 and 11 points, respectively while team captain Remy Palma managed 10.
“Expected na din namin (yung slow start) kasi galing sa bakasyon,” said FEU head coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Talaga kasing pinapaisip namin sa mga bata na kailangan na namin maipanalo lahat ng mga laban namin na natitira. Kailangan lagi kaming naka-focus.”
Cherry Rondina led UST with 17 points while Ej Laure and Carmela Tunay each contributed 11 markers.
FEU currently has solo claim on the fourth seed with a 7-5 record. UST now needs their foes to lose matches to make the Final Four for the first time in four seasons as they drop to 5-7.
FEU (3) – Pons 20, Basas 12, Malabanan 11, Palma 10, Villareal 6, Sy 2, Hernandez 1, Negrito 1, Duremdes (L), Atienza (L)
UST (1) – Rondina 17, Laure 11, Tunay 11, Meneses 6, De Leon 5, Francisco 3, Teope 1, Cortez 1, Bicar 0, Rivera (L)