Lady Tams nail it
Far Eastern University ended a nine-year Finals drought after eliminating Ateneo, 25-20, 25-21, 14-25, 25-19, on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena to advance to the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball championship round.
The second-seeded Lady Tamaraws, eyeing a 30th title, also halted the No. 3 Lady Eagles’ streak of six straight Finals stints.
After dropping the third set, the Lady Tamaraws turned almost unstoppable in the fourth, going on an 8-1 run as the quiet but effective Toni Rose Basas made her presence felt.
Basas managed to change Jhoana Maraguinot’s attempt with the Lady Eagle hitting the ball straight to the net for FEU’s 15-11 lead.
After an earlier mistake gave Ateneo a free point, Basas went back to work with a down-the-line kill and a block on Maraguinot as FEU upped its advantage to 17-12.
“We worked really hard for this and my players and I talked about all our sacrifices just to get here,” FEU coach George Pascua said .
Far Eastern U, however, fell in the men’s side as Ateneo’s Marck Espejo put on a historical performance to lead the defending champion Blue Eagles past the No. 2 Tamaraws, 18-25, 25-14, 24-26, 25-23, 15-9.
Espejo set a UAAP scoring record with 55 points to lead the third-seeded Eagles to a deciding match this Wednesday.
The reigning four-time Most Valuable Player reached the half-century mark in the fifth set when he gave the Blue Eagles an 8-5 lead.
Espejo then put Ateneo on match point, 14-9, with a block off Redijohn Paler for his 54th point.
“Marck is a monster,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said. “Those 55 points don’t matter if you don’t make it at the right time, so he made it at the right time, and that shows that the maturity is there.”
Espejo notched his 55th point—16 more than his previous career-high—with an off-the-block kill that gave Ateneo another lease on life and extend its bid for a fourth straight title.
Jude Garcia and John Paul Bugaoan had 15 points apiece to lead the Tamaraws while Paler added 12.
Basas, after an overpowering performance in the middle of the third set, scored another dagger that gave the Lady Tamaraws a 23-16 lead before skipper Bernadeth Pons put them at 24-16.
Although Ateneo scored three straight, two from Kat Tolentino and another one from Maddie Madayag, to cut the deficit to 24-19, Kyle Negrito rose to block Maraguinot for an FEU winner.—BONG LOZADA, INQUIRER.NET
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