FAR Eastern University continued its surprising surge, moving within a win of a V-League title with a straight sets win over defending champion National University on Saturday in the opener of the V-League First Conference best-of-three finals at The Arena in San Juan.
Rachel Ann Daquis came up huge anew and Bernadette Pons bucked an ankle sprain as the Lady Tamaraws scored a 26-24, 26-24, 25-22 win to close in on a first-ever title in 11 seasons in the league.
Guest player and former Lady Tamaraw Daquis had 19 points from an all-around performance of 11 spikes, three blocks and five service aces for FEU.
The Lady Tamaraws have lost just once since tapping Daquis and fellow national team mainstay Jovelyn Gonzaga before the quartefinals, and the veterans have inspired the FEU regulars to push even harder.
Pons, for one, insisted that she play despite a sprained left ankle and came up with 14 points as FEU completed the win in one hour and 35 minutes.
“Sobrang bilib ako sa batang ’yan,” said FEU coach Shaq delos Santos of Pons, who hurt her ankle in practice.
“Napakatapang, ang fighting spirit talagang palaban. Tinanong ko siya, sabi ko, ‘ano gusto mo taga-palakpak ka lang bukas?’ Ayaw daw niya, gusto daw niya maglaro.”
Gonzaga played fine offense and defense, as expected, posting with nine points and 17 excellent digs.
Best setter Yna Papa also came up with 32 perfect sets for FEU.
FEU actually fell behind in the third after two close sets, with NU building a 1-8 lead, but the Lady Tamaraws woke up and regained control.
“Nag relax kasi ang mga bata sa third set, kasi sa first two sets intense eh, close fight.”
Season MVP Dindin Santiago delivered 13 points for NU, while Mina Aganon added 11.
The Lady Tamaraws can claim the title on Sunday in the second match of the best-of-three series.