JERRILI Malabanan came to the rescue as Far Eastern University overcame University of the East, 25-15, 16-25, 12-25, 25-22, 16-14, on Saturday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Tamaraws blew a 14-11 lead in the fifth set but Malabanan provided the two match-clinching attacks as gave FEU improved its win-loss record to 6-3 to tie idle La Salle and University of Santo Tomas at second place.
Missing rookie sensation Lycha Ebon due to a right knee injury sustained in Sunday’s match against Adamson, FEU got a boost from Ivana Agudo who had 12, including four hits in a row that gave the Lady Tamaraws a 14-11 lead.
Malabanan, Celine Domingo and Heather Guino-o delivered 11 points each, while Kyle Negrito had 22 excellent sets and five points.
“Yun naman ang hinahanap namin sa dulo eh, yung mga veterans namin,” FEU head coach George Pascua said. “Sabi ko nga sa kanila kanina after ng fourth set, it's not about Lycha. Siyempre, ang naging motivation yung pagkawala niya. Kasi ayaw ko naman na lilitaw na matatalo yung team dahil wala siya, at naniniwala ako sa kanila, na kaya nila na mag-perform without yung isa sa mga scorer namin.”
The Lady Tamaraws now brace for a tough battle against the Ateneo Lady Eagles (7-1) on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
Mean Mendrez scored a career-high 22 points for UE, which dropped to 2-7, tied for sixth with National University.
Judith Abil had another all-around game with 16 points, 20 excellent receptions and 16 digs, Seth Rodriguez scored 12 and Roselle Baliton had 11 markers.
Laiza Bendong made 42 excellent sets, while Kath Arado protected the floor with 32 digs and 20 excellent receptions.
UE faces University of the Philippines on Wednesday.