University of the Philippines averted meltdown and fended off Far Eastern University in a five-set thriller, 25-12, 25-22, 24-26, 27-29, 15-11, in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Saturday night, May 7.
In a nip-and-tuck affair, the Lady Fighting Maroons showed poise down the stretch behind the efforts of Alyssa Bertolano, Lorie Bernardo, and Jaila Atienza against the gritty Lady Tamaraws.
“The first two sets we played our game. The third and the fourth sets, we kinda stopped,” said UP head coach Godfrey Okumu. “We were playing like we won the game already so we needed to regroup for the fifth set and that’s why we were able to win.”
UP had led for the most part of the fifth and decisive set after gaining an 11-3 advantage off an 8-0 run.
FEU retaliated with a 4-0 spurt before taking it one conversion at a time to trail by three points, 12-9, capped by Chen Tagaod’s persistent scoring.
Bertolano hit a through-the-block kill which enabled the Lady Fighting Maroons to reach match point first, 14-10, but Tagaod just won’t give up and blocked another attempt from the UP star rookie.
The 19-year-old Bertolano had a good read on the impending combination play and put the finishing touches off a solid kill for the win.
Bertolano led UP’s balanced attack with 25 points off 24 attacks, Bernardo fired 12 spikes for 13 markers, Irah Jaboneta also had 13 points highlighted by two service aces, and Jewel Encarnacion chipped in 12 points with two coming from the service area.
“But again, we still have a lot of things to work on as a team. We spike well, we pass well, but we have to work on our defense especially. FEU is not an easy team to beat, they are a strong team and we give them respect,”added Okumu.
Tied at 27-all in the fourth frame, FEU reached set point first before Bertolano’s attack went too wide as the Lady Tamaraws forced a decisive fifth set.
After trailing the past two sets, Tagaod spelled the difference for FEU in the third canto after sparking a 6-0 blitz to take a 24-23 lead before committing an attack error.
Bernardo soared for a quick kill for a 24-all deadlock but the Lady Tamaraws responded courtesy of a Tagaod conversion and an attack error from Jaboneta.
Tagaod spearheaded the Lady Tamaraws with 18 points off 15 attacks and two service aces while Jean Asis and Lycha Ebon scored 15 and 10 points, respectively.