Keys to Victory: FEU-Ateneo Final 4 Match up
It’s been nine years since Far Eastern University won its record 29th UAAP women’s volleyball title while
for the better part of the decade Ateneo has swooped above the competition appearing in five straight finals appearances and winning back-to-back titles in Seasons 76 and 77.
FEU still has a massive advantage in terms of titles, 29-2, but in terms of the current possession of power the Lady Eagles have the Lady Tamaraws beat.
Come Sunday, however, the Lady Tamaraws have a chance to go for redemption and return to their once grounds if they can shock Ateneo in the Final Four.
The Jia factor
If there’s ever a person the Lady Tamaraws are wary off, it’s Ateneo setter Jia Morado.
FEU head coach Shaq Delos Santos put it as simple as possible.
“Actually the number one threat is Jia,” said Delos Santos. “Jia is really the key for that team, wherever her spikers go she’ll find them. Jia is the one we really need to defend.”
Ateneo, though, won’t let Morado get into the matchup without ample preparation.
Lady Eagles assistant coach Sherwin Meneses knows Morado is fully aware of what’s going to happen and he has full faith that his setter will find ways to counter FEU.
“Of course everyone adjusts especially to Jia, but Jia also knows how to cope with the whatever’s happening around her,” said Meneses. “Once we get a good reception, Jia will immediately get the advantage and even if they defend that we’re okay.”
Matchup of swag
Just like the other semifinal series between defending champions De La Salle and University of Santo Tomas where the middle blockers can potentially dictate the matchup, the same can be said between FEU and Ateneo.
Ateneo’s Bea De Leon and FEU’s Remy Palma are fully capable of putting up points in the stat sheets, but it’s their inane ability to strike nerves that make their matchup interesting.
De Leon has showcased her swagger to whoever stands opposite her, and the same can be said for Palma who will use what she learned in her Psychology course in FEU to play with the minds of opposing hitters.
If De Leon will shout and prance around whenever she scores, Palma treads the subtler route of a simple wink.
Another intriguing matchup inside this series is between Mich Morente and Bernadeth Pons.
Both are capable scorers, but what makes the two outside hitters unique is their ability to play de facto liberos for their respective teams.
Pons, who is a quiet contender for the MVP award, and Morente have both proven to tack their names not only at the top of the stat sheet, but in the bottom fold as well.
Be it tacking up excellent receptions or digs, both Pons and Morente are fully capable of putting their names beside the statistics.
Shaq the world
Delos Santos may not approve of a “Shaq the world” catchphrase but his team has found a knack to, well, shock the world.
FEU was on the verge of elimination as early in the preliminaries when it dropped to 5-6 with three games left in its schedule.
Then the Lady Tamaraws got into a stampede and dumped University of the East, National University, and University of the Philippines in succession to finish with a fourth-best 8-6 record.
FEU is also capable of pulling off a stunner in the semifinals, as evident by its one win in Season 78’s Final Four against La Salle.