The Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws clinched their fourth straight Final Four berth after rallying back from an early Adamson University Lady Falcons’ storm, 25-22, 25-27, 14-25, 25-22, 15-11, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Both squads nearly squandered big leads in the first two sets. The Lady Tams were ahead, 18-12, before the Lady Falcons rallied to come within two, 21-19. FEU eventually pulled away, with Celine Domingo providing three of FEU’s last four points.
The Lady Falcons then took their turn, bursting out to a 16-6 start in the second frame before crumbling. With Domingo terrorizing the net and Toni Basas delivering aces, the Lady Tams claimed 16 of the next 21 points to take a 22-21 lead. But the Lady Tamaraws suffered due to a torrent of errors. Locked in a 25-all deadlock, FEU surrendered two consecutive Bernadeth Pons attack errors to hand the Lady Falcons the equalizer.
Adamson then dominated the third set, negotiating a 15-6 advantage and never looking back. In a back-and-forth fourth set, Domingo again saved the Lady Tamaraws, scoring FEU’s last two points to force a decider.
Open hitter Heather Guino-o guided FEU to a strong 8-5 start in the fifth set. Adamson countered as team captain Jema Galanza sandwiched hits between FEU errors to give the Lady Falcons a 10-8 lead. Pons then revived her team’s rally, scoring thrice in a 5-0 FEU run for a 13-10 lead. The Lady Falcons scored just one more point before succumbing to their own offensive stupor.
“Medyo mabagal talaga ‘yung naging performance ng team noong second at third set. Sabi ko sa kanila na kailanan nilang ipakita na kaya nilang bumawi,” said FEU head coach George Pascua.
“Maganda na nakahabol kami kasi ‘yung ganitong pag-stick sa game plan at execution na kailangan namin kung gusto namin makukuha ng twice-to-beat,” the FEU great furthered.
FEU (8-4) need to win their last two matches and for the Ateneo Lady Eagles (9-3) to lose at least one more match to have a shot at a twice-to-beat advantage. They face the University of the East Lady Warriors (2-9) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Adamson (5-7) have to rely on the slumping NU Lady Bulldogs (6-6) to keep sliding and slip out of the Final Four race. They take on the De La Salle University Lady Spikers (9-2), also on Wednesday, in the first of two crucial matches.
FEU (3) – Pons 22, Domingo 18, Basas 16, Guino-o 12, Villareal 5, Negrito 3, Carandang 2, Cayuna 1, Agudo 0, Hernandez 0, Malabanan 0, Atienza (L), Duremdes (L)
AdU (2) – Galanza 16, Paat 15, Dacoron 12, Soyud 11, Perez 6, Emnas 5, Flora 1, Uy 0, Ponce (L)