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MANILA, Philippines – The FEU Lady Tamaraws claimed a much-needed win at the expense of the also-ran Ateneo Blue Eagles, 25-21, 25-11, 22-25, 25-21, on Wednesday, April 19, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
FEU, which needs to muster every win to remain in the hunt for a spot in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball Final Four, completed a season sweep of Ateneo.
“Whatever the outcome, we look at the final three games with a desire to win… we are assessing whether we can still make the Final Four,” said head coach Tina Salak after FEU improved its record to 6-6.
“Whatever our rankings may be in the Final Four, it’s already a blessing… but this time, the focus is to maximize our remaining time in the season for another win,” she added.
Playing before the presence of former head coach Anusorn “Tai” Bundit, the Blue Eagles avoided a straight-set loss by building a huge lead in the third set.
Ateneo led by as many as four late in the third frame, 20-16, but the feisty Lady Tams came to within one, 23-22, following an attack error by Faith Nisperos.
Joan Narit and Nisperos then drilled back-to-back attacks to win their lone set, 25-22.
In the fourth, FEU turned a 20-all deadlock into a 4-1 blitz en route to the victory courtesy of Gerzel Petalo’s three attacks.
Nisperos was then rejected by Ann Asis, which led to Tin Ubaldo’s service ace that wrapped up the team’s sixth win in 12 games.
“We always preach in training that when we talk, speak like when we’re practicing at the R. Papa [gym],” said Ubaldo, who scored 7 points on top of 10 excellent sets.
“Make it feel like training so that we can accomplish what we practice,” she added.
Chenie Tagaod scored a team-high 15 for the Lady Tamaraws, while Jov Fernandez added 12 markers.
Skipper Nisperos poured in 20 for the Blue Eagles, all coming from attacks.
Ateneo, on the other hand, fell to 4-8, as it failed to make a playoff appearance for the first time since 2009.
In men’s action, the Blue Eagles withstood a furious comeback bid by the FEU Tamaraws, 25-21, 25-23, 23-25, 25-27, 15-7, to keep their playoff hopes alive as both teams now sport a similar 6-6 record.
The Tamaraws forced the fifth set after making a successful challenge on a net touch by Amil Pacinio Jr., which would have given Ateneo match point.
Instead, FEU scored two straight attacks to extend the game.
However, Ateneo dropped an explosive start in the deciding set by scoring the closing frame’s first 9 points for an insurmountable advantage.
Jian Salarzon led Ateneo’s scoring with 29 points built on 23 attacks, 4 blocks, and 2 aces. Four more teammates posted double figures.
“I’m very happy for our players that stepped up during the fifth set,” said Ateneo head coach Timmy Sto. Tomas.
“The players really wanted to win this game to keep up our hopes in the Final Four… so I’m very happy and thankful for my players that they stepped up in the fifth set,” he added.
Mark Calado continued his high scoring output for the Tamaraws, which lost its fourth straight contest.