FEU remains unbeaten, gets mettle tested against Ateneo in UAAP thriller

FEU Advocate
February 25, 2019 12:26

By Ohmer R. Bautista

The Far Eastern University (FEU) men's volleyball team subdued last year's finalist, Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), in a five-set thriller, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 20-25, 16-14 to stay atop the rankings of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season 81 men's volleyball tournament, February 24, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

With the win, the Tamaraws currently hold the best record in the league with a 3-0 win-loss card. Moreover, for FEU head coach Rei Diaz, maintaining their win streak and closing in on their ultimate goal will all boil down on keeping their motivation at the maximum.

"Kung hindi magbabago ang motivation namin, hindi malalayo ang goal namin. ‘Yun naman ang sinasabi ko sa lahat, from coaches up to players, na stick lang kami sa goal namin (If our motivation will not change, our goal will not drift away. That is what I have been telling everyone, from coaches up to players, that we should just stick to our goal)," Diaz expressed.

Aside from sitting atop of the perch, the factor that made their recent win even sweeter had been the uphill battle that they have undergone just to formalize the character-building win over their Season 80 tormentors.

"Matibay talaga ‘yung Ateneo eh. Andoon pa rin ‘yung heart nila kasi galing sila sa championship. So magandang gift sa amin ni God ito na kailangan mas tumibay pa kami kung may gusto kaming marating sa season na ito (Ateneo has always been tough. Their heart of a championship is still there, which is why it is a good gift from God, especially this is what we need to be to tougher if we really want to reach something this season)," added Diaz.

It was a nip-and-tuck affair ever since the get-go as both teams fought for the set lead, culminating to a decisive fifth set. In the decider, it was Ateneo who pulled inches within victory as conversions from Janjan Rivera and Ron Medalla granted the Blue Eagles a slim 12-10 cushion.

With backs against the wall, it was high time for the Tamaraws to test the mettle that they ought to strengthen. As Diaz put it, "Well, ano na 'yan, [test of] character. Makikita talaga natin kung sino 'yung matibay."

Staying true to the school's core value of fortitude, FEU played with intensity and mental strength as veterans JP Bugaoan and Jude Garcia willed the Morayta-based squad to a 13-12 lead. In an ensuing manner, Owen Suarez bamboozled the Ateneo defense after a sharp-witted dump at the middle, followed by an assist to Garcia and skipper Richard Solis to ice the game for good.

Suarez powered FEU's high-octane offense with 37 excellent tosses. Garcia, RJ Paler, Bugaoan, and Solis supplemented 23, 19, and 12 each, respectively, for FEU.

The Tamaraws will look to keep their hot streak alive as they take on the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on March 2 at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.