SURGING teams University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University have something more in common than their win streaks ahead of their clash in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The two schools also look to rekindle a long but overshadowed rivalry in UAAP volleyball, as UST and FEU have a total of 15 Finals battles with the Lady Tamaraws owning a 9-6 advantage. The Tigresses, though, won their last championship showdown in 2010, with current FEU coach Shaq delos Santos coincidentally leading the UST team at the time.
The spotlight may be on rivals Ateneo and La Salle facing off for the first time this season, but Lady Tams coach delos Santos believes that the FEU-UST match will be equally intense due to their long-standing rivalry.
“Sa akin, siguro meron pa rin kasi hindi naman mawawala ‘yan kasi ‘yan ang unang nakilala talaga. UST-FEU even men’s team naman,” said the veteran mentor.
“So hindi ‘yan (rivalry) mawawala kasi magandang laban naman ‘yan and I’m sure madaming manonood and madaming mag-aabang,” he added.
FEU owns the record with the most UAAP women’s title with 29 followed by UST with 14. La Salle has nine while Ateneo only has two.
UST coach Kungfu Reyes, though, is not putting too much attention on the rivalry but keeps his focus on preparing for a team that’s getting its groove after a slow start just like his squad.
After a 1-3 start, the Tigresses evened their record with back-to-back wins over Adamson and National University, while the Lady Tamaraws are on a three-game winning streak.
“FEU parang kami din ‘yan eh, medyo wavy ang start namin tapos nagpapanalo. So paghahandaan lang din namin,” said Reyes. “Parehas lang din kami ng morale ngayon so kung sino mas gusto manalo sa Sabado ‘yun na lang din.”
Meanwhile, an intriguing match-up between two versatile players could also take some of the spotlight as Bernadeth Pons takes the lead for FEU, while Sisi Rondina leads UST.
In their previous game, the fourth year Lady Tams outside hitter had an all-around performance of 24 points, 23 digs and 14 excellent sets, while the third year Tigresses captain made 15 points, 18 digs and 10 excellent receptions on Wednesday.