UAAP volleyball: Top 4 still the goal for young FEU Lady Tamaraws
MANILA, Philippines—Far Eastern University is facing another major adjustment for the second straight year, having little to no time to adjust after losing stars in consecutive seasons.
MVP contender Bernadeth Pons left after Season 80 followed by quartet of Jerrili Malabanan, Kyle Negrito, Celine Domingo, and Heather Guino-o after Season 81.
Despite the incredible loss of talent, head coach George Pascua and the rest of the Lady Tamaraws are working double time to stay contenders for the upcoming UAAP season.
“We finished last season at the No. 4 spot so that’s really our goal this year and that is to maintain that position,” said Pascua in Filipino after the team’s practice at FEU Gym.
“We lost a lot of players and coming in are five rookies but what I see are the newcomers are slowly getting into our system so we’re fairly okay right now.”
The Lady Tamaraws finished Season 81 with a 9-5 record but lost to eventual champion Ateneo in the Final Four.
FEU’s finish in Season 81 was made even more impressive since the team played most of the tournament with a depleted lineup after star rookie Lycha Ebon went down with an injury in the middle of the schedule.
Ebon, who suffered a knee injury in her first year, is still uncertain on her return this season but Pascua said the wing spiker is slowly getting into full health.
“So far she’s at 50/50 because she’s still in her therapy but hopefully within this month she fully heals,” said Pascua. “She’s able to join us in our exercises but not just in full blast sessions.”
To compensate for the lack of star power, Pascua had his players train in full-game simulations to build the chemistry between, especially between the setters and the spikers.
“The lack of experience definitely hurts so the adjustment we do is expose our players more on the team game so their chemistry, especially the rookies, improves,” said Pascua.
“We’re a new team, we’re in transition, but our goal is the top 4 then let’s see where we go from there.”