Far Eastern University fended off the challenge of Ateneo de Manila University in a four-set thriller, 24-26, 25-15, 25-23, 27-25, to bag its third win in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Volleyball tournament, Wednesday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The win saw FEU gain a piece of second spot with 3-1 along with De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas. Ateneo slipped to 1-3 in sixth place.
FEU needed to overcome an early 11-14 deficit in the fourth set to snag the driver’s seat at the second technical timeout at 16-15 with Mark Calado and Carl Cabatac leading the way. The two wingers then connived to lead the close finish, fittingly, with yet another Calado attack.
Calado exploded for 27 points, all coming from attacks, to go with eight excellent receptions. Cabatac, who needed to sub in for the injured Dryx Saavedra, finished with 11 points off the bench, off eight spikes and three blocks.
“Actually, iba yung aura ng Ateneo eh; tapos sinasabayan ng players ko. Kaya ang ginawa ko cinontrol lang natin ‘yung team. So, good reaction, good response from the team na bumalik don sa tinetraining namin,” Tamaraws head coach Rey Diaz said of the win.
The Tamaraws, though, needed to shake off a slow start.
The Blue Eagles zoomed to an 18-10 advantage in the opening set with Jian Salarzon and its middles Charles Abasin and Jet Gopio finding their mark. FEU made a run and tied it at 24, but two consecutive points from the Blue Eagles put the set in their favor.
That turned out to be the last stand for the Blue Eagles as the Tamaraws swept the next three frames.
Using that momentum in that late opening-set run, FEU blew Ateneo in the second with Calado taking charge. The Tamaraws then needed to fend off the Blue Eagles in the third, stopping Salarzon with back-to-back blocks in the tail-end of the set for the 2-1 cushion.
Salarazon paced the Blue Eagles with 20 markers off 15 attacks and a game-high five blocks, while Gopio and Absin added 14 and 12 points, respectively.
FEU will face De La Salle in a battle of the tournament frontrunners on Saturday at 10 a.m., while Ateneo will try to stop the slide when it takes on winless Adamson University on the following day at 4 p.m.
Both matches are set at the same Pasig venue.