FEU Lady Tamaraws secure spot in stepladder semis with five-set win in KO match against UST Tigresses
The FEU Lady Tamaraws are back in the semifinals after missing out the past three seasons. Dante Peralta

FAR Eastern University outsteadied University of Santo Tomas, 25-21, 25-15, 20-25, 16-25, 15-6, on Wednesday to secure a place in the stepladder playoffs of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena.

FEU and UST both finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss records, necessitating the extra match to determine the third team that will enter the semifinals.

Ateneo secured an outright finals berth and a thrice-to-beat advantage after a 14-match sweep of the eliminations, sending the tournament to a stepladder semifinals instead of a crossover Final Four.

La Salle is the second seed, while National University wound up third.

The Lady Tamaraws thus set up a showdown with the Lady Bulldogs on Saturday, with the winner taking on the Taft-based Lady Spikers.

FEU makes advances to the semifinals for the first time after missing it the past three seasons. UST, on the other hand, will be out of the postseason for the third straight year.

“Sobrang happy kasi imagine ’yung pinagdaanan namin,” said FEU coach Shaq de los Santos. “Happy ako kasi hindi kami pinabayaan ni God, ng management at ng mga sumusuporta sa amin.”

“Tapos ’yung mga players talaga sobrang nagtyaga at ’yung coaching staff hindi nagstop na magturo,” he added.

FEU used a 6-0 run behind rookie Heather Guino-o to take an 8-2 lead in the fifth.

Mary Palma and Bernadeth Pons worked together to widen the gap, 14-5, and Ganeveve Casugod blocked Cherry Rondina's spike to seal the victory.

Pons, Casugod and Guino-o each had 17 points, while Mary Palma chipped in 11.

The Lady Tamaraws looked set to score a quick win but UST fought back and led by as many as 12 before taking the third set. Pint-sized rookie Rondina then led the fourth-quarter surge but the Tigresses just lost steam in the fifth.

Skipper Pam Lastimosa finished with 19 points, while sophomore Ria Meneses scored 11 and Rondina, who was fielded in the third set until the finish, had 11 markers, all from spikes, for UST.

Highly-regarded UST rookie EJ Laure , who was fielded in the first two sets and was used sparingly in the fifth, had a measly five points.

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