Following a disappointing performance last Wednesday, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws regained optimal position in a tight Final Four race after outlasting the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Heather Guino-O propelled the Lady Tamaraws to a 22-14 first set lead with solid attacking. UP slowly crawled back, however, getting to within three, 23-20, and forcing FEU to burn both their timeouts. The Lady Tamaraws eventually won the set as UP surrendered two errors.
UP then took their turn jumping to a big lead in the second set. A myriad of FEU errors and UP transition kills bled into an 18-11 UP cushion. The Lady Tamaraws made a last-gasp push, coming within three, 22-19. But UP took the next three points, with Justine Dorog taking charge.
The Lady Maroons seemed to have control of the third set, erupting for a 6-0 start. FEU eventually found their groove, making a quick push to tie the set at 18. From there, the Lady Tamaraws worked off Guino-O’s serving and Jerili Malabanan’s attacking to take six of the next eight points and gain set point, 24-20. FEU kept going to Malabanan for the last point, but the graduating skipper kept getting shut down as UP nearly forced a deuce. The Lady Tamaraws got a break in the final play, setting up Cza Carandang for a quick play.
A see-saw fourth set saw both teams swinging wildly for momentum. A France Ronquillo ace highlighted an FEU 3-0 run that put them up, 23-19. Tots Carlos then answered, keeping UP in the hunt with back-to-back kills. Finally, Malabanan and Guino-O conspired for the match’s last two points.
Guino-O set a new career-high with 22 points off 18 attacks and four blocks, while Malabanan added 17.
“Pinaghirapan naman talaga iyan kasi sabi ko naman sa kanila na natalo tayo sa Ateneo, pero don’t give up. Ang motto namin: Matapang ako, lalaban ako, kaya ko,” declared FEU head coach George Pascua.
Carlos managed 22 points, while Dorog added 15. Isa Molde was back in the lineup but only played as a service specialist.
FEU (7-4) next face the National University Lady Bulldogs (3-7). Meanwhile, UP (6-5) take on the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses (7-4) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
FEU (3) – Guino-O 22, Malabanan 17, Domingo 8, Villareal 8, Agudo 7, Negrito 5, Carandang 3, Ronquillo 1, Cayuna 0, Hernandez 0, Bautista (L), Duremdes (L)
UP (1) – Carlos 22, Dorog 15, Buitre 9, Layug 6, Bernardo 3, Estrañero 3, Ramos 2, Molde 0, Rosier 0, Altomea (L), Bautista (L)