- September 23, 2021 09:12
By Ohmer R. Bautista
The Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws had to go through the ringer, ekeing past the cellar-dwelling University of the East (UE) Lady Red Warriors in an uphill battle, 25-15, 24-26, 25-22, 20-25, 15-9, in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
"Ngayon ‘yung pagkapanalo namin, hindi siya ganoon kadali. Sabi ko nga sa team ngayon, lahat unpredictable ‘yung performance ng mga teams. Buti na lang, na-manage namin ‘yung fifth set (Our win today is not an easy one. Like what I told the team today, every team's performance is unpredictable. Fortunately, we were able to manage the fifth set)," FEU head coach George Pascua stated.
Holding a 2-1 set advantage with a win within sight in the fourth set at 20-16, FEU's offense suddenly went adrift which UE took advantage of. The Lady Red Warriors went on a blistering 9-0 spurt, built on momentum-swinging spikes and costly errors from the Lady Tams, to forge a decider.
History, however, had never been on FEU's side in terms of fifth sets. All of their losses so far this season came from five-setters, particularly against University of the Philippines (UP) and Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU).
But instead of looking at it as a problem, coach Pascua saw it as an opportunity to exorcize their five-set curse, and to mold what he seeks the most from his team -maturity.
"‘Yung maturity this fifth set [ang hinanap ko] kasi doon na dapat kayo mag-mature kasi ‘yun naman talaga ‘yung ineensayo namin sa game. Kailangan sa end point, kailangan mag-step-up lahat (The maturity in the fifth set was what I looked for since that is when one must mature since that has been what we are practicing for. At the end point, everyone should step up)," coach Pascua added.
In the decisive fifth set, mature voices in Kyle Negrito, Celine Domingo, Nette Villareal, and Heather Guino-o rallied the team while rookies Lycha Ebon and France Ronquillo showed maturity beyond years as their composure culminated to a 7-1 closing run that broke an 8-all deadlock and sealed the game for good.
"Ang importante lang ay manalo. Ang kagandahan lang ng fifth set ay at least kahit papaano, nakikita namin kung papaano kumapit ‘yung players ko pagdating ng fifth set. Importante ay ‘wag bibitaw sa dulo. ‘Yun ang isa sa mga na-gain namin sa mga previous na games namin (What's important is to win. The beauty of fifth set is at least, in a way we can see how our players hold on. The important thing is never giving up. That has been one of the things we have gained in our previous games)," Pascua said.
Ebon finished with 21 points off 17 attacks and spiked by three aces. Domingo chipped 17 markers, six of which came from blocks, while Villareal added 10 of her own with five of which coming from rejections as well for the Lady Tams, who out blocked UE, 15-7.
Buoyed by this character-building win, FEU looks to make it three in a row as they take on the Adamson University on March 10 at the same venue.
(See full album: UAAP 81 Women's Volleyball - FEU vs UE)