During Far Eastern University’s five-set escape over Ateneo de Manila University last week, the rookies proved they belong by leading the Lady Tamaraws in the fifth set.
In another five-set affair, this time against lowly University of the East, the holdovers – specifically Chenie Tagaod and Jovelyn Fernandez – put themselves back on the map to lift their team, 25-19, 18-25, 25-12, 22-25, 15-5.
And the two had extra motivation against the Lady Warriors.
In Season 84, UE salvaged its season by winning its last assignment in four sets at the expense of FEU, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21. It ends the season tied with the Lady Tamaraws at 1-13.
FEU’s lone win in that tournament was also over the Lady Warriors, but was a five-set victory in the first round, 19-25, 25-15, 25-20, 17-25, 15-10.
With UE winning in four, they finished seventh while FEU – Tagaod and Fernandez included – skidded to rock bottom.
“Yung kanina po dapat tinapos na po talaga namin nung fourth set. Yun po yung goal namin tapos biglang bumaba,” said Tagaod, who made a game-high 23 points on 18 attacks, three blocks, and two aces.
“Sinabi ko po talaga sa kanila na ayaw kong maulit. Ayaw ko na maulit yung nangyari sa amin last season na kaya naman namin pero kailangan pa namin ipush talaga,” added the 5-foot-6 winger out of Davao who was a rookie last year.
Fernandez, a third-year spiker, likewise still remembers that downer day of June 9, 2022.
She punched in 22 points on 17 kills, five blocks, and 13 excellent digs against UE.
“Same as Chenie po ayaw po talaga namin matalo and sobrang masakit sa amin yung last season na natalo po kami. Now pinakita po namin na kaya po namin,” said the 22-year-old spiker.
But their motivation was more than the history between the two teams.
It was also the reminder of the coaching staff, led by head mentor Tina Salak, that woke them up after being absent the past few games with the newcomers carrying the heavy load.
“Sobrang saya po kasi yung mga last games po namin talagang sinabihan ako ng mga coaches na hindi ako maramdaman. Ginawa ko lang po bumalik po ako ulit kung bakit ako pinagkakatiwalaan ng mga coaches, kung bakit nila ako pinapalaro, saka yung suporta po talaga nila,” shared Tagaod.
“After po ng last game namin against La Salle sobrang nadown po kami at bumalik po talaga kami sa ensayo. Kinausap din po kami ni Coach Tina na hindi rin po ako maramdaman same with Chenie at ngayon po nagtrabaho lang po kami,” echoed Fernandez.