FOURTH seed Far Eastern University lived to fight another day as it took down twice-to-beat Ateneo, 10-25, 25-23, 25-22, 12-25, 15-8, to force a rubber match in their Final Four showdown in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
The Lady Tamaraws played their hearts out in the fifth set and showed more resiliency as they scored six unanswered points capped by Jerrili Malabanan’s hit to pull away with a 13-7 spread.
Maddie Madayag stopped the bleeding, blocking Malabanan’s hit, 13-8, but a crucial attack errors from Bea De Leon and Jules Samonte allowed the Lady Tams to force a do-or-die semifinals as the Lady Eagles committed seven errors in the fifth set alone.
The no-tomorrow semis duel of Ateneo and FEU is set on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan City.
Graduating spiker Heather Guino-o refused to let this match be her last as she led the Lady Tamaraws with 17 points built on eight attacks, five service aces, and four blocks.
“Pinatunayan namin na hindi pa kami tapos,” Guino-o said.
Jeanette Villareal also rose to the occasion with 10 points, while graduating Jerrili Malabanan and rookie France Ronquillo had eight and seven markers, respectively.
Gel Cayuna was also instrumental with 19 excellent sets including 10 digs and four points as well as libero Buding Duremdes, who had 44 digs.
“Overwhelmed siyempre pero hindi pa tapos eh. Hindi pa time to celebrate, marami pa kaming mga bagay na i-fix for Game 2 kasi I’m sure sa Game 2 ibang team ang makikita namin both team. Ibang intense na laro,” said FEU head coach George Pascua.
It was FEU’s seventh five-set win in eight deciders this season.
FEU recovered from an ugly first set loss, where it only scored 10 points. The Lady Tams bounced back in the second and third set as they nailed the finishing touches in those neck-and-neck frames to move a set away from forcing a rubber match.
Ateneo, however, caught fire in the fourth set with a 10-3 start before it was trimmed by FEU to just two, 11-9, but the Lady Eagles fired seven aces for a 14-3 run to force a fifth set, where they lacked finishing touches and committed seven of their 34 errors.
The Lady Eagles demolished the Lady Tams in attacking with a 47-32 differential and even fired 17 aces but still fell on the brink of not reaching the Finals.
Kat Tolentino unloaded 21 points for Ateneo. De Leon and Madayag combined for nine aces and finished 16 and 13 points, respectively. Setter Deanna Wong dished out 26 excellent sets on top of 21 digs and seven points.