Showing steady focus and grit throughout the match, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws manuevered into a comfortable spot in the tight race for a Final Four berth in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament, smashing the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-14 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Both teams used decisive rallies midway through each of the first three sets to get wins. UP managed to shrug off FEU with a 5-0 run in the opening set to open a 20-15 lead. FEU recovered in the following frame, ending a heated exchange with a 4-0 blitz to notch a 22-18 lead, which they held onto to tie the match at a set apiece. Littered with rallies and highlight reel defensive plays, the third frame dragged on. FEU finally managed to wrestle away control of the set through the amazing play of Bernadette Pons, who scored three in 5-0 run that gave them a 24-19 lead and a large enough cushion to secure the set.
UP ran out of fight in the fourth frame, spotting FEU a massive 17-6 lead. Unable to pass consistently, UP allowed the Lady Tams to stroll ahead in the tight race for a Final Four spot.
“Kailangan talaga namin manalo ngayon. Buti na lang gumana ‘yung mga inensayo namin sa depensa pati sa serving. Talagang pinaghandaan din kami nang UP pero maganda ‘yung pinakita nang mga bata,” said FEU head coach Shaq Delos Santos.
FEU setter Gyzelle Sy orchestrated their offense impeccably, tossing 55 excellent sets to go with her five points. Bernadette Pons tallied 18 points with 21 digs while Toni Basas and team captain Remy Palma had 15 each.
Veteran open hitter Nicole Tiamzon led the Lady Maroons with 12 points. Rookie Isa Molde added 11, while Diana Carlos had 10.
The Lady Tams clinched at least a playoff for a Final Four seed with a 8-5 record. UP (7-6) now need to win against the UST Tigresses on April 10 at the SM MoA Arena, and for the NU Lady Bulldogs (7-6) to lose against the DLSU Lady Spikers on April 13 at the FilOil Flying V Centre to secure the Final Four.
If FEU take their match on Wednesday against the Adamson Lady Falcons, they make the Final Four. Should they lose, they await the results of the matches of their fellow Final Four contenders.
FEU (3) – Pons 18, Basas 15, Palma 15, Guino-O 6, Sy 5, Villareal 4, Malabanan 1, Hernandez 0, Dionela 0, Negrito 0, Atienza (L), Durmedez (L)
UP (1) – Tiamzon 12, Carlos 11, Molde 10, Bersola 8, Buitre 3, Dorog 2, Lai 1, Estrañero (L), Gaiser (L)