MANILA, Philippines-Far Eastern University put up a far more durable defensive barrier to subdue University of the East, 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 25-16, and reinforce its Final Four bid in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chenie Tagaod energized the Lady Tamaraws with 20 points, 12 of them attacks, had two aces and accounted for six of her team’s season-high 23 blocks.
“We’ve been practicing our blocking in training, more than focusing on our attacks,” said Tagaod after they pulled to an even 5-5 slate following a recent defeat at the hands of the La Salle Lady Spikers.
Jovelyn Fernandez added 12 points and Mitzi Panangin had 11 points and five blocks while setter Christine Ubaldo fueled the FEU offense with 17 excellent sets.
“I have to commend the coaches for the blocking and timing of those blocks and we really appreciate the way we executed them,” said FEU coach Tina Salak.
The Lady Tamaraws will go on a long break before facing National University on April 16, but Salak won’t keep them in the freezer for long.
“We’ll just take a break for two days, get some inspiration for our families, and go back to training. Our remaining games will be tough,” said Salak.
Out of sync in the opening frame, the Lady Warriors quickly regrouped with hitters KC Cepada and Janeca Lana raining blows relentlessly that somehow cracked FEU’s defensive wall.
Cepeda’s spike off a block propelled UE to a commanding 20-13 advantage and another pair of attacks by the power-smashing outside hitter in the next couple of sequences kept the Lady Tamaraws at bay.
Lana scored on a crosscourt kill following Tagaod’s service error, putting them on the verge of taking the second set.
Tagaod compensated with a back row strike, but Lana unloaded a high-octane spike in the ensuing play, leveling the count in the process going into the third set.
The Lady Tamaraws reversed the trend in the next frame, immediately moving up anchored on the efforts of Fernandez and Alyzza Devosora.
But when everybody thought FEU already had this one in the bag, the Lady Warriors nearly turned everything around.
Lana’s non-stop shelling pulled UE within 23-24 before Panangin deflected her last-ditch attempt to extend the set.
“We didn’t expect to be in this position (at 5-5). There’s pressure, but of course we want to be in the Final Four,” said Tagaod.
The Lady Warriors remained winless after 10 games with Lana scoring 24 points built on 21 attacks and Cepada adding 12 markers.
The Lady Tamaraws then strengthened further the barricade at the net in the final set, parrying most of the blows that both Lana and Cepada had mustered.
Lana made it 23-16 with another attack, but there was no more denying the Lady Tamaraws as Ubaldo blocked Cepada and Devosora capped it off with an ace.
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