THE agony of defeat broke the hearts of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws after losing at the hands of the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons in two games and settling for another silver medal in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.
But for senior spiker Jerrili Malabanan, it gave them an important lesson.
Malabanan and the Lady Tams could have won the championship had they managed to close out both Games One and Two, where the Lady Maroons pulled off stunning comebacks to change the outcome and win their first major volleyball title in 36 years.
FEU squandered a two-set lead in Game One and blew a 13-7 fifth-set lead in their must-win Game Two that could have forced a decider as they allowed the Lady Maroons to score eight straight points to win the series.
Malabanan, the fifth-year spiker, felt regretful for what happened.
“Sobrang sayang. When we were in the dugout, our team was talking, and we told each that we really tough, that we were gonna win that fifth set kasi the score I think was 13-7,” Malabanan said. “Then, sinabi lang namin na hindi talaga para sa'min. Like our coach said after the game, we'll just use this as another learning experience for UAAP.”
Despite the heartbreaking meltdown, the 23-year-old open spiker said that she and her teammates learned a lot from their stint in the PVL, especially in stepping up as one of the leaders as early as now in the post-Bernadeth Pons era.
“I think, we really improved a lot especially as a team like we have new players that you could see earlier that they really could provide points for our team. So, I think it's a confidence-booster for all of us,” she said.
FEU head coach George Pascua wanted the seniors to step up at a time that mattered most in the Finals.
And that’s what Malabanan and her fellow senior players learned and have to improve on after their heartbreaking setback to UP.
She vowed to continue leading her team — especially the rookies — as the Lady Tams try to redeem themselves come UAAP next season.
“Just them (rookies) playing in the finals, that really helped them fight their nerves and stuff,” Malabanan said. “So, me, Kyle (Negrito), and Heather (Guino-o), we're just gonna be always guiding them through training, and always helping them improve, and giving them tips and stuff.”