MANILA, Philippines – With their No. 1 scoring option sidelined, Far Eastern University (FEU) desperately needed someone to step up for them in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament.
Rookie ace Lycha Ebon, who averages over 14 points per game, suffered a knee injury in their game against Adamson University last week and she has been ruled out until after Easter. In their first game without her, the Lady Tamaraws were pushed to the limit by a dangerous University of the East team.
Fortunately for FEU, Ivana Agudo was there to provide a boost for the team. Starting for the first time all season, Agudo contributed 12 points, including several key hits in the fifth set.
With Agudo coming alive late – and Jerrili Malabanan also waxing hot down the stretch – the Lady Tamaraws managed to secure a difficult 25-15, 16-25, 12-25, 25-22, 17-15 victory over the Lady Warriors.
Afterward, her teammates and coach heaped praise on Agudo, who prior to Ebon's injury only saw limited minutes for FEU.
"Kailangan ma-sustain namin without Lycha. Andiyan naman si Ivan to help the team, and with the seniors, nagawa naman nila yung trabaho. Nakaka-proud na nagawa nila yung part nila without one of the best players namin," said FEU coach George Pascua.
Malabanan, who scored 11 points including the last two for her team, said that Agudo's performance was nothing short of inspirational.
"I think during the whole game, I was really inspired by Ivana, the way she stepped up. I think we really followed her lead today," said the FEU captain.
"May nawala sa amin, pero may papalit," added FEU setter Kyle Negrito.
Ebon, who watched courtside with her right knee tightly wrapped, could not help but be emotional at how Agudo performed.
"Sobrang naiyak na po ako kay Ate Van," she admitted. "Sabi ko, 'Ate, sobrang galing mo.'"
Her own performance came as a surprise for Agudo, who simply wanted to do what she can to help the Lady Tams win. That she scored the clutch hits in the fifth set was a bonus.
"Para sa akin po, sinabi ko sa sarili ko na kailangan ko din mag-step up. Kahit hindi man ako makapag-provide ng points, at least sa ibang paraan naman," she explained.
"Ayun, unexpected din po 'yung nagawa ko," Agudo added. "Sobrang happy po ako."
With Ebon out for at least three more weeks, the Lady Tamaraws will need Agudo to perform consistently, especially as they fight for their spot in the Final 4. Their win over UE gave the Lady Tams a 6-3 win-loss record, which is good for third in the standings.
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