Not leaving anything to chance, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws inched closer to an outright Final Four berth after outlasting the National University Lady Bulldogs, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Tamaraws made a habit of giving up big leads. Up 12-5 in the first set, FEU allowed National U to come within one, 15-14, after a lackadaisical defensive effort. The Lady Tamaraws then recovered late, turning a slim 22-21 lead into a win with a 3-0 run.
FEU’s solid blocking and floor defense led to a 16-6 cushion in the second frame. NU again whittled away at the deficit; they found their stride after kills from Princess Robles and Ivy Lacsina put them three away from FEU, 22-19. Cza Carandang and Heather Guino-O then conspired for the set’s last three points, allowing FEU to escape.
Ahead 16-9 in the third set, FEU’s reception suddenly collapsed and opened the door for an 8-2 NU run. To cap the trend they established, FEU made one last late run, finding Guino-O and Kyle Negrito for the match’s last three points.
The Lady Tamaraws have won their first straight-sets match this season. Head coach George Pascua credited his team’s resiliency for the win.
“Siyempre sabi ko nga sa mga players, one at a time lang. Kung sino ang kalaban, focus. Siyempre, kailangan andoon pa rin yung ano namin… Mataas ang commitment level namin, yung energy level namin sa game. Pinlano naman namin yan, then execute lang kami,” said Pascua.
FEU gained a momentary edge with their 8-4 record over UP (6-5) and UST (7-4).
Guino-O finished with 11 points, while captain Jerrili Malabanan added 10 markers to pace FEU.
For the first time this season, veteran Audrey Paran led the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points, while rookie dynamos Ivy Lacsina and Princess Robles were held to nine and seven points, respectively.
Both teams play their next matches on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. FEU face the University of Santo Tomas, while NU (3-9) take on the University of the Philippines.
FEU (3) – Guino-O 11, Malabanan 10, Villareal 8, Ronquillo 6, Negrito 5, Domingo 4, Carandang 2, Agudo 0, Cayuna 0, Hernandez 0, Duremdes (L)
NU (0) – Paran 11, Lacsina 9, Doria 7, Robles 7, Chavez 1, Landicho 0, Luceno 0, Orillaneda 0, Nierva (L)