Adamson, FEU battle for last UAAP Volleyball Final Four slot
MANILA, Philippines – With only one berth left in the stepladder playoffs, two teams will square off for the last time this season as they will try to turn their respective seasons around for the right to complete the 76th UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament Final Four cast.
The Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws will try to return to the postseason this time following a sixth place finish after last year’s eliminations while the Adamson University Lady Falcons aim to ride on the swansong of Sheila Pineda who has put up one colossal showing after another in a do-or-die game later today at The Arena in San Juan City.
Both teams, however, are coming off less-than-stellar performances in the homestretch of eliminations with Adamson losing three of their last four games and FEU on a three-game skid.
The Morayta-based squad actually ended the first round of the eliminations, decently winning four of their first seven games but they wasted a golden opportunity for a straight-up Final Four ticket when they lost their last three games of the season: an important one against Adamson, a shock defeat to University of the Philippines and their loss to Ateneo de Manila that sent them to a win-or-go-home knockout match with the Falcons.
AdU, meanwhile, started out the season at 0-2 but bounced back with back-to-back victories, and in the end, were able to tally in six wins in 14 outings to share the fourth spot with FEU.
In their two meetings this year, FEU and Adamson had to be separated by a five-setter in the first round and an electrifying four-set game in the second, underlining the evenness of both teams when they face each other on the court.
In round one, FEU leaned on their rookie Bernadette Pons as she put up one of the best performances in her budding UAAP career, finishing 27 points to subdue a stubborn Adamson side in five sets.
But the spotlight was on Pineda who singlehandedly did the scoring chores for the Falcons, top scoring in the game with 29 markers, but the rest of Adamson had no answer to FEU’s balanced scoring with Mary Palma, Geneveve Casugod and Marie Charlemagne Simborio each finishing on double-digits.
It was a different story in the second round as the Lady Falcons exacted revenge, dispatching FEU in four sets.
With their campaign already in danger of collapsing in front of them, the graduating Pineda emerged when her team needed her most, leading Adamson with 20 points – including the finishing blows in crunch time. By winning that match, they tied FEU at six wins that proved to be their lifesaver to stay in contention for a Final Four ticket.
Even in the skills department, both teams are almost identical with Adamson placing fifth in spiking and FEU lagging just one place behind. The Lady Tams, though, are fifth in the league in blocking against the Lady Falcons who are at seventh.
Setting would be FEU’s specialty being the third-best in the league but Adamson tops in the digging department, with the Lady Tams in second.
Will Pineda pull off another ‘big bang’ for Adamson...
Pineda really lived up to her nickname, Bang, in this year’s eliminations as she put up strings of 20-point games but unfortunately, she did not get ample support from her teammates. Amanda Villanueva and Mayette Zapanta did make an impact for Adamson in their Season 76 campaign but they are far-away from the consistency Pineda showed throughout the year. Marleen Cortel, among the rest of the squad, has displayed glimpses of brilliance in some of their games, but they were just that – only glimpses.
In their win against coach Shaq Delos Santos’ wards in the second round, balanced scoring proved to be the key to Adamson as Pineda only scored 20, with the rest of the Falcons pitching in in the scoring department. If they are to take that last spot in the playoff, they will need their entire arsenal loaded and they will need it blazing against FEU.
…or will it be ‘Pons-toppable’ time for FEU?
Even this early, the wunderkind Pons is showing that she will be the cornerstone of FEU’s future campaigns as she already registered veteran numbers just in her rookie year. She ranked number six in the league in scoring making her one of the frontrunners for the Rookie of the Year plum.
FEU, however, isn’t an all-Pons show. While she spearhead the Lady Tams’ charge, their defense is anchored on no other than the lanky Casugod, currently the league’s second best when it comes to blocking.
Aside from the two, Simborio and Palma have the potential to steal the thunder and it will not hurt for FEU if they all get into their groove in their all-important tiff against Adamson.
The winner will move on to the Final Four to face Ateneo first in a stepladder-format playoffs. De La Salle is already in the Finals with a thrice-to-beat edge while National University, which holds a twice-to-beat advantage, will wait for the victor of the tiff between the Lady Eagles and either Adamson or FEU. - Rappler.com
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