The Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws may have it in their school colors, but gold has eluded them in the past major tournaments.
Placing as runners-up in the 2017 PVL Collegiate Conference and the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball Tournament to end the Bernadeth Pons-era, the Lady Tamaraws again tasted defeat in the 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference Finals.
Unlike their past silver finishes, their loss to the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons holds a sour flavor.
On paper, it will show that UP swept FEU, but the way the two matches went down was far from the usual convincing nature of series sweeps.
FEU blew a two-set lead in Game One, running out of gas just when the Lady Maroons found their groove. Just when the Lady Tamaraws were poised to return the favor in Game Two with a two-set comeback of their own, UP made a run for the ages in the fifth set to lock up the title.
A downcast FEU head coach George Pascua rued his team’s mistakes, but dwelt more on the positives the Lady Tams took away from the defeat.
“‘Yun, very proud ako sa mga bata. They did their best talaga, kaya talaga kaso kinulang kami ng tao. It’s a long journey pa for UAAP.
“At least nakita na namin ang kagandahan na kahit talo kami, nag-gain kami ng confidence, nag-gain kami ng trust sa bawat isa — na kaya pala namin lumaban without ‘yung mga key players namin,” shared the FEU lifer.
Lost in the shuffle of their title run was FEU’s constant shuffling of their lineup. To start the conference, the Lady Tamaraws were without starting opposite hitter Toni Basas due to an ear infection.
Just when the Lady Tamaraws found a new leading scorer in Celine Domingo, the UAAP Season 80 Best Blocker aggravated her right knee Plica Syndrome late in the elimination round. She then missed after Game Two of the Finals after falling awkwardly on the same knee late in Game One.
Unlike past FEU squads, this batch of Lady Tamaraws had more uncertainty as they lost the face of the program Bernadeth Pons.
For now, Pascua feels his team answered more questions than he expected following the PVL Conference.
The focus remains on getting all his players in their new roles.
“‘Yun ‘yung isa pa sa purpose na nakita namin talaga na nag-step up ‘yung mga rookies. ‘Yung support ng beterano, ‘yun ‘yung kailangan,” said Pascua.
“‘Yung chemistry kasi hindi ko na pinoproblema. Siguro, hindi ganoon kabilis ‘yung adjustments nila doon sa system na gusto naming manngyari ng mga coaches. Nakukuha naman nila pero minsan, ‘di lang gaano ka-consistent.”
If anything, Pascua is glad his players got to experience another high-pressure series – facing another partisan crowd in a packed venue.
“Nung unang mga sets, medyo na-intimidate sila sa crowd. Yun pa ‘yung naging factor ng kalaban – ‘yung crowd. ‘Yun ‘yung bumubuhay sa kalaban, ‘yun naman yung bumabaril sa atin,” Pascua concluded.
“So, ‘yun ‘yung gusto kong ma-overcome nila; kailangan kahit ganoon kalakas ‘yung crowd ng kalaban, gusto kong andoon pa rin ‘yung composure at tsaka ‘yung focus. ‘Yun ‘yung pinipilit naming i-train sa kanila; ‘yung emosiyon nila kasi gusto ko na magtiwala sila sa kakayahan nila na kaya nilang gawin kung gugustuhin nila.”
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