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Out of the cellar, FEU moves closer to UAAP Finals stint


Out of the cellar, FEU moves closer to UAAP Finals stint

UST Tigresses clinched a Finals ticket to UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, dethroning La Salle. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Whoever books a spot in the championship from the other side of the semifinal bracket in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, they’ll have to take Far Eastern University (FEU) into consideration.

The Lady Tamaraws refused to be intimidated by the powerhouse National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs and forced their Final Four showdown into a deciding match.

And they did it emphatically, using a 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 victory last Saturday to force their rivals to fish out their twice-to-beat card and complete their climb from one of their worst seasons in school history to the cusp of a title berth.

“We are so eager to reach the Finals,” said setter Tin Ubaldo, one of two remaining players from Season 84’s one-win squad. “[That season] was our inspiration to get here. Every time I look back [at that season, I tell myself] that we won’t allow that to happen again.”

Ubaldo masterfully pulled the strings for FEU with 16 excellent sets on top of six points as the Lady Tamaraws moved from being dark horses to legitimate title contenders.

“All I can say is don’t forget FEU [when talking about title contenders],” said FEU rookie coach Manolo Refugia.

Refugia is the Lady Tamaraws’ third coach in as many seasons and he has instilled a sense of belief in his wards so much so that it hardly mattered to the team that it lost its last six meetings to NU, including two in this tournament.

“We felt we could get [this win] even in training,” Refugia said about the upset.

University of Santo Tomas and La Salle were squaring off in the other Final Four pairing at press time. The Lady Spikers, defending champions of the tournament, were also looking to tear down the Tigresses’ playoff shield and drag their duel into a deciding match.

On Wednesday, the Lady Tamaraws will shoot for what very few thought was possible before the season started. With a win at the Big Dome, FEU will earn a Finals berth.

Feet on the ground

“My emotions are high but like they say, the job’s not finished. There’s work to be done. Sacrifice,” Refugia said. “We won’t forget to keep our feet on the ground. We’re in Cloud Nine now, so we need to go back [to earth] and [show] that we still have a lot left. We’re going to fight.”

“On Wednesday, whoever wants it, whoever is able to dig [deeper], whoever has the will to win, that’s who [will advance],” he added.

FEU will try to be that team.

“I don’t want to go back to that feeling where we were so down,” said Chenie Tagaod, the other holdover from that Season 84 team.

Aside from Ubaldo and Tagaod, also producing wonders for the Lady Tamaraws against NU were Jean Asis, Mitzi Panangin, Faida Bakanke and libero Ann Monares, who blunted the Lady Bulldogs’ power with 14 excellent receptions.



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They will be called upon to come through with one more brave effort against a squad that has been to the championship the last two seasons and swept its way to the crown two seasons ago, when FEU found itself languishing in the cellar. INQ





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