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FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack

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Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons

IT WAS 9PM and the Petron Tri-Activ Spikers were in the last hour of their practice at FEU’s R. Papa Gym. Bernadette Pons and Remy Palma, weren’t part of Petron’s lineup yet, but they were two of the sweatiest players there.

Two of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws’ pillar players, Pons and Palma do have a lot to sweat about.

In UAAP Season 78, the Tamaraws were a game away frkm making it back to the Finals, taking the eventual champions La Salle Lady Spikers to a do-or-die tiff in the semifinals. But FEU came short against the most experienced team in the league.

This season, the Lady Tams are arguably the most experienced.
Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons
Pons is in her fourth year and projects to be a frontrunner for the MVP award.
Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons
Super senior Palma grew into FEU’s vocal leader and on-court motivator.
Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons
Third year opposite hitter Toni Basas broke out of her shall last season and turned into one of the deadliest scorers in the league.

Among the crowded list contenders, FEU is one of the few teams who won’t rely on a young player in the starting six.

They also only lost one player. On paper, the Lady Tams look formidable both on offense and defense.

Which is why Pons and Palma kicked up their preparation.

“Marami ngang nagsasabi na malaki ang potential namin this year. Instead na gawing pressure ‘yun, ginagamit namin siyang motivation. Kaya ito, kung may pwede pa kaming gawing extra para mag-improve, ginagawa namin,” Pons told Tiebreaker Times.

“‘Yun naman talaga ang kailangan namin. Sa mental aspect magkakaralunan this year. Halos lahat ng team merong skills. Sa pag-handle ng pressure sa mga malalaking laro, feeling ko, kaya naman mag-shine,” added Palma, a Psychology major.

Coach Shaq Delos Santos believes his team is at the peak of their developmental curve.

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“Every year ang goal namin was maka-Final Four. Sa nilaro namin last year at sa composition ng team, hindi na talaga sapat na Final Four lang. lAng approach pa din is one game at a time pero kailangan mas consistent na kami,” Delos Santos remarks.

“Confident ako na may confidence ang players namin.”

FEU, however, didn’t lose just any player; they lost starting playmaker Gyzelle Sy. The last of an elite breed of pint-sized setters, Sy’s return smoothened FEU’s offense last season.Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons

As a replacement, they brought in third year setter Kyle Negrito. Last season, Delos Santos had already given Negrito playing time in crucial situations, although her effectiveness paled to Sy’s brilliance.

“Malaki ang tiwala ko kay Kyle. Sa ensayo naiilabas niya ‘yung laro niya. Kailangan niya na lang matuto ilabas sa mga game ‘yung galing niya,” Delos Santos claimed.

For her part, Negrito knows she can’t replace Sy nor will she ever play like the former Best Setter.Tiebreaker Times FEU Lady Tamaraws: UAAP LXXIX Starter Pack Bandwagon Wire FEU UAAP Volleyball  UAAP Season 79 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 79 Shaq delos Santos Remy Palma Kyle Negrito FEU Women's Volleyball Bernadette Pons

“Ang sinabi sa akin ni coach, huwag kong pilitin na gayahin si Ate Gy. May sarili akong laro at approach, ‘yun ang kailangan ko ipakita,” Negrito expressed.

“Doon ako humuhugot ng lakas ng loob kasi si coach pati ‘yung teammates ko may tiwala sa akin. So dapat lang mag tiwala ako sa sarili ko.”

—-

IT WAS 10PM at the R. Papa Gym and Pons was still doing one-on-one drill with one of the coaches. When she finished, she took off her shoes and walked to the showers.

“Papahingi na ako kuya,” she said to one of the reporters.

“Kakailanganin ko ‘yun. Wala nang pahinga pagdating ng UAAP.”

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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