Solid service, floor defense push FEU to big victory over UP

In what is arguably their most important game of the elimination round, FEU delivered. 

In effect, the Lady Tamaraws pushed UP to a must-win situation in the Lady Maroons’ last match of the preliminaries.

Bernadeth Pons fired 19 points while Remy Palma and Toni Rose Basas each contributed 15 markers as FEU racked up a 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-14 victory in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Center.

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Coach Shaq delos Santos heaved a sigh of relief as they secured a Final Four berth.

“Thank you Lord syempre. Medyo nakalusot na kami dun sa isa. Isa na lang,” he said. “Adamson na lang yung paghahandaan namin. Hopefully, makuha ulit namin.”

Against UP, the Lady Tamaraws banked on solid service and floor defense, with Ria Duremdes finishing with 21 digs and 9 excellent receptions and Pons adding 21 digs as well.

Delos Santos said it was all planned.

“Sabi ko sakanila, kailangan mamuhunan tayo ng service at receive kasi dyan lagi nagkakatalo e. Once na hindi ka naka-receive kahit malakas yung attack natin, magiging useless lahat yan. Then yung floor defense, syempre, pinupush namin yung mga bata kasi di pwedeng mauna yung atake e,” he shared.

“Kasi kung attack yung mauuna samin, mawawala lahat nung pwede naming gawin. Weapon na yun, kasi kung yung service (ng kalaban) maganda, malaking bagay (yung defense),” he added.

Read: Always-ready Gyzel Sy silences doubters with 49-set outing

With FEU rolling, Delos Santos lauded veteran setter Gyzel Sy for stepping up after a string of shaky performances early in the tournament.

After dishing out 49 excellent sets when they beat UST last Wednesday, Sy dominated with 54 against the Lady Maroons.

“Medyo bumabalik na siya and hopefully magtuloy-tuloy na. Sobrang laki (nung part ni Gyzel Sy sa opensa namin),” he said. “Sabi ko nga sakanya kanina, hindi pwedeng ikaw yung unang bibigay kasi ikaw yung nagdadala. Experienced player ka, pakita mo na senior ka talaga dyan and kaya mo naman yung labanan. Kasi medyo napipikon nga siya kanina kasi gusto niya pagandahin yung set niya.”

“Medyo nararattle siya. Sabi ko kailangan magisip ka lang, ikalma mo yung sarili mo. Pagisipan mo kung ano yung play na gagawin natin. Makinig ka samin, eto yung diskarte natin, so makinig ka lang.”

As the competition is getting tighter and tighter, the Lady Tamaraws need to get on full gear to achieve their goal. With only one game left for most teams in the tournament, their remaining matches will be crucial.

Read: Improved service, reception push FEU closer to Final Four

Even after winning consecutive games, Delos Santos believes FEU can take it to another level.

“Para sa amin, meron pa e. Lumalabas siya pero kailangan lang maging consistent sa simula hanggang sa dulo,” he said.

“Hopefully (makuha namin yung third slot). Kasi syempre bilog yung bola, di rin natin masasabi kasi yung game namin sa Adamson, hindi kami pinalad nung first round,” he shared. “But of course, honestly speaking, hindi na kami papayag na maulit samin yun. Syempre hindi siya magiging ganun kadali. Sinabi ko nga sa mga players ko na magiging mas mahirap ngayon yung labanan.” — By Joyce Palad

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