UAAP women’s volleyball: FEU outlasts Ateneo in 5 sets to force decider

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 04 2019 07:32 PM | Updated as of May 05 2019 12:57 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)—A slow start paved the way for a dominant finish, as Far Eastern University stunned top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University in their UAAP Season 81 Final 4 showdown at Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.

The fourth-seeded Lady Tamaraws entered the game with their backs against the wall, and came away with a 10-25, 25-23, 25-22, 12-25, 15-8 victory over the Lady Eagles in front of an 11,000-strong crowd at the Pasay City venue.

In the process, the Lady Tams forced a deciding game for a spot in the UAAP Season 81 finals, as the Lady Eagles will now have to maximize the twice-to-beat privilege that they earned as the top team in the elimination round.

"Siyempre overwhelmed (kami), pero hindi pa tapos eh," said FEU head coach George Pascua. "Hindi pa time to celebrate. Marami pa kaming bagay na ifi-fix for Game 2."

Heather Guino-o added: "Dito namin malalaman kung last na namin 'to, or kung magtutuloy-tuloy pa kami."

"Pinatunayan namin na hindi pa kami tapos."

The do-or-die game for a spot in the best-of-3 Finals will be held at FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.

Guino-o led the way for FEU with 17 points, while Jeanette Villareal added 10. Jerrili Malabanan had 8 points, and France Ronquillo contributed 7. The Lady Tamaraws had 10 blocks and 11 aces, making up for their 32-47 deficit in attack points.

The match appeared headed for a quick finish after Ateneo breezed through the opening frame. But FEU adjusted in the second set, pouncing on the Lady Eagles' poor service reception and attacking woes. The Lady Eagles were ahead, 16-14, but gave up 5 unanswered points after the second technical timeout.

The Lady Tams then pulled through in the tight finish, as Villareal won a joust to put them at set point, 24-23, before Ponggay Gaston's attack error gave FEU the hard-earned win after 35 minutes.

Ateneo continued to fall prey to its own miscues in Set 3, while FEU got an edge off its service game. The Lady Tams took a 23-18 advantage off a Villareal runner, which Maddie Madayag answered with a hit of her own to make it a 4-point game. An attack error by Gaston put FEU at set point, 24-19, before Ateneo scored 3 straight points to threaten. Unfortunately for the Lady Eagles, they cut off their own comeback when Deanna Wong sent her serve to the net, bringing FEU to the brink of victory.

The Lady Eagles dominated the fourth set, taking a 16-10 lead and pulling away from there. They scored 7 aces in the set, while limiting their errors to just four in order to force the deciding frame.

Ateneo took an early 5-3 lead in the fifth set after Villareal was called for a double contact violation. But a smart tip by Ronquillo sparked a 4-0 run, capped by back-to-back points from Villareal that put the Lady Tams ahead, 7-5. Two straight errors by Guino-o -- a service error and a mishit -- tied the set, but Villareal quickly got the lead back with her running hit.

It turned out to be the start of a backbreaking 6-0 run for the Lady Tams. Ateneo did not help its cause, scoring 2 errors in the run while also giving up an ace to Ronquillo. A clutch hit by skipper Malabanan gave FEU a commanding 13-7 lead, before Madayag rejected her at the net in the next rally to keep Ateneo alive.

But errors, once again, proved to be Ateneo's waterloo. Skipper Bea de Leon committed an attack error, and Jules Samonte went long in her next hit as the Lady Eagles gifted the last two points of the match to the Lady Tamaraws.

"First time namin matalo ang Ateneo this season, so nakaka-overwhelm," acknowledged Ronquillo, who recovered from being targeted by the Lady Eagles in the fourth set to come up with solid serves in the fifth.

Kat Tolentino led all scorers with 21 points on 17 kills and 3 blocks, while de Leon had 16 points on 10 kills and 5 aces. Madayag scored 13 points, including 3 blocks.

Ateneo put up 47 attack points, but could not overcome their 34 unforced errors -- seven of which came in the critical fifth set.

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