By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
AFTER a decade, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws are entering the Final Four of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) as one of the top two teams carrying a twice-to-beat advantage. It is a position that took a while to reach and something the team really longed for. And now it is in its hands, it intends to make full use of it in trying to go deeper in the tournament.
Following their four-set victory over the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, 25-21, 25-22, 16-25 and 25-20, on the final day of the elimination round of Season 80 on Sunday, and coupled with the straight-set defeat of the Ateneo Lady Eagles to the De La Salle Lady Spikers, the Lady Tamaraws seized solo second spot with a 10-4 record heading into the semifinals.
Going into the match, the Lady Tamaraws were tied with the Lady Eagles in the standings with a 9-4 record and were staring at a possible playoff with Ateneo for number two.
But after delivering from its end and Ateneo failing to, FEU thrust itself to the second seed, behind defending champion La Salle, marking the first time since Season 71 that it has found itself in such a spot.
“We’re happy with this win. Hopefully we could build on this. We are already near the top and I told the players not to stop fighting,” said winning coach George Pascua at the postgame press conference of their match against NU.
While at the time of their victory they were still uncertain if they already secured the number two spot since La Salle and Ateneo had yet to play their final game of the eliminations, Mr. Pascua said they were ready for any scenario and would come in prepared.
“Right now we do not know yet if we have to go to a playoff for number two. But the players know what to do in any case. We have talked to them about the different scenarios and conditioned their minds so they are ready,” Mr. Pascua said.
With FEU serving as Season 80 host, the Lady Tamaraws coach further said that their campaign has taken more significance as they want to make the school proud.
“We have a tradition of playing in the finals. When you talk about UAAP women’s volleyball it is usually FEU and UST (University of Santo Tomas). So we want to bring it back. We are also host this year and we want to get our 30th UAAP women’s title,” said Mr. Pascua, whose school is the winningest in league history.
In finishing in the top two, FEU turned to a strong finish in the second round that had it winning its last four games against University of the Philippines, Ateneo, University of the East and NU in that order.
The streak was second only to La Salle which swept its second-round assignments en route finishing on top at the end of the eliminations.
FEU uses its first of two tries to barge into the finals when it collides with Ateneo on Saturday, April 21, for Game One of their Final Four pairing. The game is set for 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.