The highly-anticipated matchup between bitter rivals FEU and UST did not disappoint as the tussle delivered the high-octane action expected from both squads in the 1st round of the UAAP Season 78 men’s volleyball tournament.
Despite having 42 glaring errors, the Tamaraws emerged victorious in four, 25-21, 24-26, 31-29, 25-21, banking on 16 offensive blocks to contain the spirited Tiger Spikers.
And though it’s been 3 years since the last time FEU and UST faced each other in the finals, the Morayta squad’s new head coach Reynaldo Diaz declared that the rivalry lives on.
“‘Yung UST talagang pinakita nila na karibal pa din namin sila. Binigyan nila kami ng magandang laro,” he told the press.
FEU came into the match with the upper hand due to the España squad’s early struggles to notch a win against higher seeded teams.
But as per Diaz’s observation, the competitiveness between 2 of the winningest teams in the UAAP has brought the opponent’s intensity up a notch in an attempt to fight for pride and glory.
“Based kasi dun sa mga previous games nila, ‘yung intensity na pinakita nila hindi ganyan eh,” said the coach. “Pero in-expect naman namin na talagang magandang laban ito kasi alam naman natin sa history ang UST ang laging karibal ng FEU sa volleyball.”
Starters Jude Garcia, John Bugaoan and Greg Dolor combined for 41 big points while Richard Solis contributed 10 of his own off the bench for the Tamaraws’ winning cause.
Banking on the heroics of rookie Manuel Medina, who waxed hot with 17 points, the Tiger Spikers rallied and won the second frame, even threatening to snatch the third set with a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 1, 23-24.
Both teams went on a spiking show but UST’s unforced errors eventually took its toll as they yielded the set—and later on the match—to slip to a 1-4 record.
On the mid-game meltdown, the FEU coach says, “Medyo nag relax ‘yung mga bata. Nagulat din sila sa magandang pinakita ng UST men’s volleyball team. Nakahabol naman kami kaso may isa akong error. Isang puntos lang ‘yun eh. Sayang.”
Even FEU’s floor defense was on point, tallying 36 excellent reception and 17 excellent digs as opposed to UST’s 23 and 17.
The all-around good play of his wards, in spite of dropping a set, was enough to satisfy Diaz as his team rises in the rankings with a 3-2 record.
“Maganda ‘yan na nabigyan ng ganyang laro. Mas tataas ‘yung morale ng mga bata lalo na ‘yung mga 1st year,” he shared.
“Nakakatuwa na ‘yung binigay na motivation ng mga coaches effective sa mga bata,” he closed. — By Mac Dionisio