UAAP 79 volleyball Final 4: Will FEU finally live up to the hype and stun Ateneo?
MANILA, Philippines — We talked about the first Final Four matchup between the Lady Spikers and Golden Tigresses.
Now we shift our attention to the other equally exciting pairing starring the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles and the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws.
FEU Lady Tamaraws
Spike - 31.40% (5th)
Block - 1.75 per set (3rd)
Serve - 2.29 aces per set (4th)
Dig - 14.94 per set (2nd)
Set - 10.82 per set (3rd)
Receive - 26.52% (5th)
They were a win away from entering the finals last season, but eventual champions De La Salle University spoiled the party.
And with an intact core this season, the FEU Lady Tamaraws were tipped to win it all this season.
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Unfortunately, they were not able to live up to the hype.
Although they only lost setter Gyzele Sy, the Lady Tamaraws struggled to fill the void left by the veteran playmaker as they alternated with the services of Kyle Negrito and Gel Cayuna.
From being tagged a championship contender, FEU had to survive two do-or-die matches against NU and UP, respectively, to make their comeback in the Final Four.
The Lady Tams have been cruising in the middle of the pack all season long. They had bad moments, but they also had flashes of brilliance.
Bernadeth Pons is making a strong case to become the league's MVP, chalking up triple-double performances.
Setter Kyle Negrito has been stepping up for the team lately, proving why she deserves the starting setter position.
And of course, they still have their emotional leader Rem Palma to act as their glue whenever things get messy inside the court.
FEU is the winningest team in UAAP women's volleyball history with 29 titles, and if they want to add another crown they will need work together to defeat the most cohesive team in the league.
ADMU Lady Eagles
Spike - 38.01% (1st)
Block - 1.59 per set (5th)
Serve - 2.84 aces per set (1st)
Dig - 12.73 per set (7th)
Set - 11.41 per set (2nd)
Receive - 28.41% (3rd)
With the departure of key players in Alyssa Valdez and Amy Ahomiro, not much was expected for the Lady Eagles.
But lo and behold, for the third straight season, Ateneo finished the elimination round on top.
The Lady Eagles are proving everyone that they are not a one-woman team.
In fact, Ateneo is the most balanced team in the league in terms of point production.
Half of the credit should go to their setter, the "silent assassin" Jia Morado.
MVP plums usually don't go to setters, but Morado is giving other players a run for their money with her amazing play making.
Then they have Mich Morente, who has been proving that she deserves her second chance, with a great all-around performance.
The scoring troika of Jho Maraguinot, Kat Tolentino and Bea de Leon is also a threat to opponents.
And if these players wake up on the wrong side of the bed, they have able replacements in Kim Gequillana and Jules Samonte.
With this deep of a bench, there is no doubt that the Lady Eagles have the upperhand in this matchup.
But they should not relax and remember that the Lady Tamaraws pushed them to two five-setter matches in the elimination round.