MANILA, Philippines–Far Eastern University teetered on the brink before outlasting Ateneo, 25-12, 15-25, 19-25, 25-15, 18-16, on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jovelyn Fernandez had 18 points built on 15 attacks and Alyzza Devosora delivered 11 points for the Lady Tamaraws, who came through with a defensive ploy that fended off their rivals when it mattered most.
Rookie Mitzi Panangin chipped in 11 markers and three blocks and Christine Ubaldo added 22 exceptional sets, but it was the effort that freshman libero Margarett Encarnacion exerted on denying Ateneo’s foray at the net with 35 excellent digs that proved critical.
“I’m thankful to my freshmen, they stepped up for the team. I didn’t expect it, so I’m really proud of what they’ve shown,’’ said FEU coach Tina Salak after the Lady Tamaraws picked up their second win in four games.
The Lady Tamaraws, who broke a string of setbacks against Ateneo since 2019, secured the opening set and gave up the next two frames before forcing the decider after the fourth.
“It was a total team effort. We’re still struggling, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement,’’ said Salak.
Faith Nisperos had 20 attacks out of her 21 points while Vanessa Gandler scored 13 markers, had 16 excellent digs and 12 receptions for the Blue Eagles, who were coming off a defeat from rival La Salle to absorb a second straight defeat, their third overall in four matches.
Ateneo actually clawed back from 4-1 and knotted the count at seven, triggering a long exchange in the fifth set that culminated with a Fernandez attack and a game-clinching block by rookie Gerzel Petallo on Alexis Miner’s final foray.
The Lady Tamaraws got their A-game going early after seizing the first set before the Blue Eagles returned the favor by pulling away at the beginning of the next frame and eventually leveling the count.
Lyann De Guzman kept Ateneo as far as possible from the Tamaraws with a barrage of incursions midway in the second frame.
Cherie Tagaod mounted a fightback that pushed FEU closer, 21-15, after climbing from a nine-point deficit, but Gandler steadied the Blue Eagles on a pair of kills and Tagaod aced her serve at match point.
The narrative hardly changed in the succeeding frame as Ateneo again started out determined to put away their opponents quickly, 18-9.
Miner took the cudgels for the Blue Eagles by scoring three straight points after FEU stitched the gap to five. Gandler closed out the set with back-to-back spikes.
Pushed in a very tight spot, the Lady Tamaraws wriggled their way out to equalize and drag the match to a final set.
When Ateneo got nearer by six, 20-16, Panangin went on attack mode, her twin kills plus errors on the other end paving the way for a Devosora match point.
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