Lady Eagles triumph over FEU in gripping five-set thriller

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TODAY’S MATCH was not a smooth sail for the Ateneo Lady Eagles, as they edged out the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in five sets, 25-20, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, and 15-8 on Saturday, March 18 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

This win over the Lady Tamaraws sees the Blue and White gather their eighth consecutive win, while improving to a 9-1 win-loss record in Season 79 of the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Women's Volleyball tournament.

In the first set, the Lady Eagles took little time to assert their dominance as they immediately bulldozed FEU to enter the second technical timeout leading by double digits (16-8). Exiting the timeout, the Lady Tamaraws relied on their frontline defense to rake in the points, as they blocked spike after spike from the Lady Eagles while capitalizing on the Blue and White's errors as well. Their run however, would prove to be fruitless as Jhoana Maraguinot sent a ferocious downwards spike down the line to ice the set for the Lady Eagles at 25-20.

The second set seemed to tell a story similar to the first, as the Lady Eagles once again entered the second technical timeout leading (16-11). FEU would then claw their way back into the set as they rode on spike after spike courtesy of Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons to tie the set at 22-22. However, two consecutive points capped by a service ace from Team Captain Jia Morado would claim the second set for Ateneo at 25-22.

Now trailing by two sets to none, the Lady Tamaraws depended on their frontline to enter the first technical timeout leading by five (8-3). Palma and Pons showed glimpses of their scoring prowesses in the third set, as they came up huge for the Lady Tamaraws to defeat the Lady Eagles, 25-17.

Ateneo entered the fourth set looking to wrap things up quickly, as they entered the first technical timeout leading by four (8-4). However, FEU's scoring production would soon hit a drastic increase as Palma and Pons were soon joined by Toni Basas, Jeanette Villareal and Maria Angelica Cayuna, as the Lady Tamaraws entered the second technical timeout leading by one (16-15). Eventually, a block would claim the fourth set for FEU at 25-21, forcing a fifth and match-deciding set.

The fifth set saw the two teams locking horns, as they traded point after point up until the four-point mark (4-4). The Lady Eagles, however, would score off blocks and the FEU errors would allow the Blue Eagles to lead by three at the eight-point mark (8-5). Service errors and miscommunication problems would then prove costly for the Lady Tamaraws as Ateneo would eventually take the fifth set at 15-8.

Ateneo Volleyball Program Director Sherwin Malonzo admitted that the Lady Eagles were in fact, expecting a tough match from FEU: “Mahirap talaga ang FEU. Pansinin niyo na five sets nanaman eh. Pero, as Coach Sherwin [Meneses] said: ‘laging may lalabas ang team.’ (FEU is really a tough opponent-- notice that this is another five-set game for them. But as Coach Sherwin said, the team will always put out something)"

The Lady Eagles' next match will be an interesting one, as they find themselves squaring off against the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, who they lost to in the first round, at 4PM on Wednesday, March 22 at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan City.

Box Scores:

Ateneo: Maraguinot- 23, Morente- 15, de Leon- 12, Gopico- 6, Tolentino- 6, Morado- 6, Gequillana- 2, Madayag- 1

FEU: Pons- 19, Basas- 14, Palma- 12, Villareal- 6, Guino-o- 6, Cayuna- 4, Negrito- 3, Atienza- 2, Malabanan- 2

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