FAR Eastern University coach Shaq delos Santos was ecstatic to see the fighting spirit he had long sought from his players finally show in a 27-25, 25-17, 22-25, 26-28, 15-10 win over National University in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament at Philsports Arena on Saturday.
The Lady Tamaraws were coming off a disappointing straight-set loss to two-time defending champion Ateneo, 17-25, 10-25, 21-25, a week ago, but showed their mettle in this match just in time to improve to 6-5 and occupy solo fourth spot.
Prior to the game, the veteran mentor lamented that the players lacked resilience.
“Thank you kay Lord, ‘yun ang una kong sasabihin,” said delos Santos during the post-game interview. “Happy kami kasi, actually maganda naman ang performance ng mga bata. Nakikita na talaga namin na kahit papano, ‘yung adjustment nabibigay na nila unlike noong mga (past games) especially last game namin. ‘Yun ang hinahanap namin.”
“Natalo man kami kanina doon sa isa or dalawang set hindi ganoon kalayo especially noong fourth set almost nga parang kanina nga sabi ko makukuha na namin ‘to pero syempre ganoon talaga, motivate pa rin after ng fourth set,” he added.
Delos Santos’ reliable open spiker Bernadeth Pons didn’t disappoint as she finished with a career-high 30 points, anchored on 27 spikes. Jerrili Malabanan also registered her personal-best 20 points while sophomore Toni Basas added 21 markers.
But FEU’s defense spelled the difference as the Lady Tamaraws tallied 72 excellent digs against 56 of NU and 45 excellent receptions compared to 44 from the Lady Bulldogs, in a match that took two hours and 18 minutes to finish.
“Wala kaming binabago (sa game plan). Ang dinadagdagan lang namin ang percentage sa service saka receive namin kasi lahat ng teams ganoon eh,” said delos Santos.
“So talagang pag nag-collapse ka sa service at sa receive mo delikado ‘yung ano standing mo sa (game),” he added.