To close an already impressive elimination round campaign, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws brought the National University Lady Bulldogs back to their miseries in four sets, 25-21, 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, Sunday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
FEU’s victory assured them of at least a playoff against the Ateneo Lady Eagles for a twice-to-beat advantage. They already did their part to get that but they will still have to wait for the result of the Ateneo versus La Salle match later in the day to find out their fate. An Ateneo loss will cement FEU’s second seed status.
“Sabi ko nga so far, 50-50 tayo sa twice-to-beat, depende sa mangyayari. Ngayon, kung manalo si Ateneo, andoon pa rin ‘yung mindset nila kasi sinabi ko na sa kanila ‘yung mga scenario na possible na mangyari. So ready na ‘yung mindset nila. Any situation naman, ready naman kami anytime,” FEU head coach George Pascua expressed.
The Lady Tamaraws secured a two set advantage anchored in Bernadeth Pons’ all around brilliance, and Cel Domingo’s aggressiveness.
By the third set, the Lady Tamaraws were on track to close the match early with an 11-8 lead. But after a loaded attack from Jaja Santiago in the middle followed by back-to-back blocks, NU equalized the game. Since then, all momentum was on the Lady Bulldogs’ side and snatched the third set, 25-16.
The fourth set was an exchange of runs from both teams. However, in the end, the Lady Bulldogs’ errors piled up as the Lady Tamaraws took advantage. With FEU leading at 23-20, a Heather Guino-o attack and service ace brought them at match point. Pons sealed the match with an off speed attack, 25-20.
“Yung expectation, na-meet naman namin. May mga lapses lang sa depensa, sa defense part. Pero maliit lang naman na bagay. Pero in general sa performance nila, ire-rate mo na mga nasa 85-90,” Pascua furthered.
Pons paced FEU with 17 points as Domingo supported with 12 markers. FEU closed the eliminations round with a stellar 10-4 slate, their best since Season 71.
Team captain Jaja Santiago scored the most for the Lady Bulldogs with 21 points. NU, already assured of a final four spot, finished their Season 80 elimination round at 7-7.
FEU (3) – Pons 17, Domingo 12, Basas 9, Villareal 8, Negrito 6, Gunio-o 6, Hernandez 2, Malabanan 2, Carandang 1, Cayuna 0, Duremdes L, Atienza L
NU (1) – Santiago 21, Singh 10, Sato 8, Urdas 8, Doromal 6, Paran 3, Doria 2, Nabor 0, Chavez L, Valdez L