UAAP volleyball: FEU gets back at UST to book Final Four berth

FEU Lady Tamaraws celebrate win over UST Tigresses in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

FEU Lady Tamaraws celebrate win over UST Tigresses in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines–Aside from cementing their position in the UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four, nothing can be more gratifying for Jean Asis than to attain payback against the tournament’s leading team.

“We were really eager to get back at them after that loss in the first round,’’ said the prized middle blocker after Far Eastern University exacted sweet revenge over University of Santo Tomas with a 19-25, 25-19, 21-25, 25-20, 15-10 victory on Saturday night.

By defeating the Tigresses, the Lady Tamaraws cast their trip to the playoffs in stone after securing a seventh win after 11 games.

READ: Past failures push FEU Lady Tamaraws closer to UAAP Final Four

Faida Bakanke pierced holes in the UST defense with a career-high 21 points, including two aces that went pretty well with four blocks while Asis had 16 points, with four of her attacks coming in the pivotal fifth frame.

“We’re happy to be in the Final Four, but our job is not yet done. This is a sweet moment though after years of missing the semifinals,’’ said FEU coach Manolo Refugia while reliving the fierce rivalry between his school and UST.

The Lady Tamaraws, who faltered in their Final Four bid that past two seasons, completed the semifinal cast with UST (10-2), defending champion La Salle (9-1) and National University (9-2).

READ: UAAP: FEU Lady Tamaraws eager to show their worth with Final Four bid

Tin Ubaldo engineered their offense with 21 excellent sets while Gerzel Petallo and Julianne Monares protected their backrow from the Tigresses’ power hitters with a combined 31 receptions and 22 digs.

“We knew that this win would bring us to the semifinals and it’s a great feeling when your setter puts her trust in you,’’ said Asis.

Angeline Poyos still led the Tigresses with 20 points built around 14 attacks on top of four aces and two blocks despite suffering from another bout of dehydration after the third set.

FEU Lady Tamaraws’ Jean Asis. –MARLO CUETO/

It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the first set but the Tigressess were steadier down the stretch after Ange Poyos and Reg Juardo walloped the Lady Tamaraws when it mattered most.

But FEU quickly equalized in the second set as Chenie Tagaod created the separation they needed with a down-the-line strike and an off-speed spike over two UST blockers for a five-point advantage.

Asis evaded the arms of Mae Coronado with an attack in the middle as errors mounted for the Tigresses prior to Jurado’s hit that dropped beyond the sideline at set point.

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 volleyball second round

The Tigresses found themselves trailing again for long stretches in the third before their coach goaded them to go the extra mile following a timeout.

Poyos turned on the switch, attacking the FEU floor in various angles to completely wipe out the deficit that saw themselves in the driver’s seat again.

Coronado punched a pair of down-the-line hits and Casey Carballo’s push put them on the verge before Tin Ubaldo’s service error on the other end rewarded the Tigresses sans the effort.

Poyos sat down the majority of the fourth set as the Lady Tamaraws cashed in not only on her absence, but the unforced miscues of UST as well.

Carballo and Gula had a service error each for a 23-20 FEU leverage, after which Poyos was sent back in for Jonah Perdido.

It hardly helped the Tigresses’ cause as Jurado hit a long one and Alyzza Devosora scored an ace at set point, forcing another five-setter.

Finding a vulnerable spot against their rivals, the Lady Tamaraws went for the kill in the fifth set as Asis and Devosora did most of the damage.

Asis forced the last deadlock at seven by knocking it down in the middle and followed it up with another off-the-block hit and a running attack, installing them five points away from securing the match.

Devosora’s turn to play hero came after Ubaldo set her up for a searing strike off the block and a crosscourt hammer prior to Jurado’s attack error that went too wide at matchpoint.

For now, the defeat has somehow derailed the Tigresses’ plan of earning a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four with two remaining games left against University of the East and the La Salle Lady Spikers.