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FEU’s fairytale run over; ADMU returns to the finals

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The core-four of the rejuvenated FEU women’s badminton program is one of the surprises for Season 77 of the UAAP. Young up-and-comers Hannah Tudtud and Thea Pomar gave life to this year’s team, as they would display veteran-like instincts and excellent end-game poise all throughout the season.

After staving off elimination twice last weekend, the Lady Tamaraws are at a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the semifinals against the defending champions, the Ateneo De Manila University Lady Shuttlers. Bianca Carlos and Patricia Malibiran, with their big game experience, avoided an Ateneo collapse in beating the FEU Lady Tamaraws in 4 matches, 3-1, to book another finals appearance, their 3rd in 3 years.

 

Women’s Singles Match 1: Patrisha Edrika Malibiran (ADMU) def. Michal Dei Duquilla; 2:1

ADMU 1 – 0 FEU

Patrisha Malibiran was quicker on both ends during the opening set of this match-up. Malibiran would execute excellent drops and sharp lobs that would force Duquilla into return errors. She would take an 11-7 during the break before extending the lead to 17-10. More forced errors from Duquilla would give the set to Malibiran 21-12.

Michal Duquilla would blast her way to an early 13-2 lead. Malibiran would be slow on her legs during the 2nd set. Her returns all fell short resulting in a 2nd game blowout 21-14. The win would tie the match at 1 game apiece.

30 minutes into the match, Duquilla would be visibly fatigued. The long season taking a toll on her, as she would fail to return even easy lobs. Patrisha Malibiran started the game with a huge 12-3 lead before blowing the game wide open in a 21-9 routing.

Aggregate Score: Malibiran 56 – Duquilla 42

Total Match Time: 45 mins

 

Women’s Singles Match 2: Maria Bianca Ysabel Carlos (ADMU) def. Thea Marie Pomar (FEU); 2:0

ADMU 2 – 0 FEU

Last year’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year Bianca Carlos has been blowing-out her opponents all throughout the season. In Ateneo’s last series against the Lady Tamaraws earlier this season, Carlos blew-out Michal Duquilla. This time it was Thea Pomar who tried to even stay close to Carlos.

Bianca Carlos blitzed the 1st set with a wide array of drops and smashes. The game would not be close as Carlos won with a 21-9 1st set score. The 2nd game would be one of the closer matches of Carlos for this season. The game would be tied early at 7-7 as Carlos’ smashes and lobs went astray. Carlos would just have a tiny 11-8 lead going into the 11th point break. A calmer Carlos went out of the huddle. She would slowly and meticulously break the game of Pomar. Carlos would take a 20-14 lead before closing the match with a backhanded drop to take the match 21-15.

Aggregate Score: Carlos 42 – Pomar 24

Total Match Time: 25 mins

 

Women’s Doubles Match 1: Thea Marie Pomar and Hannah Tudtud (FEU) def. Janelle Gloriane De Vera and Dia Magno (ADMU); 2:1

ADMU 2 – 1 FEU

Just like in their elimination match last Sunday, the Lady Tamaraws are down 2 matches to none going into the doubles matches. The ever-reliable tandem of Pomar and Tudtud went head-to-head against the tandem of Janelle De Vera and Dia Magno.

Janelle De Vera played like a woman on a mission during the 1st set. Being the back at the back and forth position that the lady shuttlers from Katipunan used, she would smash all the straight returns that came her way. However, the court generalship of both Pomar and Tudtud countered all those returns in their returns. The 1st set was a tight contest with both pairs exchanging mini-spurts to alternate leads. De Vera converted on 2 successful returns to give the Blue Shuttlers a 20-18 lead. Pomar would respond with her own 2-point rally to extend the game into advantage points. De Vera, hungry to break her doubles losing streak, would lead her team in the extension. She would score on an excellent push shot and force an error return from Pomar to take the 1st set 23-21.

With their season on the line, Hannah Tudtud and Thea Pomar showed that they thrive when they have their backs against the wall. Tudtud and Pomar, playing with a sense of urgency, displayed amazing reflex throughout the remainder of the match. After being down 18-14, Thea Pomar would convert on 3 wild returns from De Vera before Hannah Tudtud would finish with her own 4-point rally to tie the match with a 21-19 win.

With the momentum on their side, Thea Pomar would lead the FEU pair to a 10-2 lead in the deciding set for the match-up. The lead would extend to 12-4. Janelle De Vera had a hard time keeping-up with the pace at this point of the contest in accounting for a string of unforced errors. Dia Magno tried to carry her team on her shoulders but the lead was insurmountable. Pomar and Tudtud 21-17 to give life to a comeback bid and try to extend the semifinals.

Aggregate Score: Tudtud and Pomar 63 – De Vera and Magno 59

Total Match Time: 60 mins

 

Women’s Doubles Match 2: Bianca Ysabel Carlos and Patrisha Edrika Malibaran (ADMU) def. Michal Dei Duquilla and Maridel Rivera (FEU); 2:0

ADMU 3 – 1 FEU (ADMU advances)

The tandem of Bianca Carlos and Patrisha Malibaran has seen its ups-and-downs throughout the season. It can be best magnified during their back-to-back match-ups against the DLSU Green Shuttlers. They were completely out-of-sync during the last game of the regular season but dominated the rematch 6 days after. Their match-up against the other half of FEU’s core four showed that Carlos and Malibiran could closeout tight matches.

Michal Duquilla and Maridel Rivera would storm to a 14-7 lead over the Ateneans. The lead would extend to a 17-11 lead. The Ateneo crowd gasped as the FEU comeback might come into fruition. Slowly, Bianca Carlos would play her heart out; taking ¾’s of the court during returns and converting on excellent drops to tie the game at 19. Carlos would then convert on two successful services and a drop to steal the game away from the FEU pair 21-19.

The 2nd set was a match-up between the will of Duquilla and Rivera and the court mastery of Carlos and Malibiran. It was the big game experience of both Bianca Carlos and Patrisha Malibiran that made the difference in the game, as they were the more composed shuttlers, even when being down 10-7, to slowly breakaway and win the set 21-18.

Aggregate Score: Carlos and Malibiran 42 – Duquilla and Rivera 37

Total Match Time: 35 mins

 

The Cinderella-run of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws has ended in the hands of the defending champions. It was a good season for the team as they winded up placing 3rd after closing the regular season tied at 4th with the UST Lady Shuttlers just a week ago. With a young core, the team will be a force to be reckoned with for the seasons to come.

The Ateneo de Manila Lady Shuttlers are now in their 3rd straight finals appearance. They have a tough task in front of them as they try to win their 3rd straight championship against a solid University of the Philippines team that has a thrice-to-beat advantage. The 1st game of the finals series will be on Sunday with a 1pm start-time at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

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