Adamson's Marleen Cortel (15) attempts a spike against FEU's Marie Toni Basas (4). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – The Adamson Lady Falcons stayed alive in the race for the Final Four of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament after gutting out a hard-fought four-set win over the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
Shiela Pineda took over in the final moments as Adamson overhauled a six-point deficit in Set 4 to claim a stunning 25-15, 17-25, 25-17, and 25-23 victory.
“Sobrang pinractice namin ‘yung game na ito,” said Pineda, who finished with 20 points on 18 attacks and two aces. “Ang bawat play talaga, tinutukan namin… ‘Yung trabaho ng isa’t-isa, nagampanan nila kaya nanalo kami.”
Adamson was trailing 15-22 in Set 4 when Pineda took over, scoring on crosscourt hits and repeatedly beating the FEU blockers. Rookie Mylene Paat also provided a lift, winning a joust against FEU that made it a one-point game, 21-22.
FEU got a reprieve when Mayette Zapanta committed a service error, but that would be the last point that they scored for the game. A crosscourt hit by Pineda that stunned FEU libero Christine Agno made it 22-23, then Pineda tied the game by crushing a hit over the FEU blockers.
A mishit by the Lady Tamaraws put Adamson at match point, and Pineda fittingly put an end to the game with another kill that brought her total to 20 points.
With the win, Adamson avenged their five-set loss to FEU in the first round, and more importantly, hiked their win-loss record to 6-6. They are now tied with the Lady Tamaraws in the league standings and remain in contention for a spot in the Final Four.
Skipper Marleen Cortel added 12 points and took over in the third set for Adamson, while Zapanta scored 10 points.
Adamson drew first blood in the opening set when they took advantage of the absence of FEU’s Remy Palma, while the Lady Tamaraws were clearly out of sync and committed 10 unforced errors.
Palma, who tore a ligament in her left knee, entered the game in the second set and gave FEU a big lift, providing a stabilizing presence at the net. The Lady Tamaraws broke Set 2 open following consecutive blocks from Genevieve Casugod, turning a 9-10 deficit into a 19-13 lead.
With Palma and Casugod teaming up at the net, the Lady Tamaraws were able to equalize, 25-17, in Set 2.
Adamson quickly recovered in the third, however. Pineda sparked the Lady Falcons after the first technical timeout, scoring on a variety of attacks to give her team a 16-12 lead.
Cortel then took up the reins in the second half of the set, repeatedly catching FEU off guard with her down the line hits.
FEU looked to be on its way to forcing a deciding fifth set, as they controlled most of the fourth. Marie Simborio gave the Lady Tamaraws a boost off the bench, scoring on offspeed shots even as rookie Bernadeth Pons put together an inconsistent performance after torching Adamson for 27 points in the first round.
Even with Palma having to flit in and out of the set due to her knee injury, the Lady Tamaraws still took a seemingly comfortable seven-point spread, 22-15, but had no answer for Pineda down the stretch as Adamson snatched the victory.
Pons still lead the way in scoring for FEU with 16 points, but the Lady Tamaraws as a team only had 31 attack points, compared to 48 by Adamson.