Or maybe not at all.
Far Eastern University stunned De La Salle University in a thrilling five-setter match to postpone, or probably prevent the Lady Spikers from entering the Finals of the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball tournament.
The Lady Tamaraws came from two sets down to turn back DLSU, who were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, 15-25, 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 16-14, on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena and force a do-or-die match on Wednesday at the same venue.
With FEU’s win, early finalist and three-peat seeking Ateneo will have to wait a little longer for its opponent.
So what are the factors for either FEU or La Salle to book that coveted Finals seat? Volleyball analyst Mozzy Ravena lists down what each team needs to do to win:
Continue quick game adjustments
In Game 1 of their semifinals series, the Lady Tamaraws trailed at the start of every set which caused them to lose the first two. Veteran coach Shaq delos Santos made the necessary adjustments to be able to recover from such a sluggish start. Their slow-burn attitude might have worked in their first meeting, observes Mozzy, but FEU should "step on the gas early on to avoid the Lady Spikers from seizing the upper hand." There's no assurance that a late Lady Tams push could end up in another miraculous comeback.
3 or 4 players must play big
Volleyball is a team game and each team has six players on the court that can—or should—score. Realizing that FEU top hitter Bernadeth Pons couldn't do it alone, skipper Mary Palma and sophomore Toni Basas ably contributed in the offense.
"Game 2, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game," says Mozzy. The team must not only rely on Pons (22 points), Palma (18), and Basas (17). Sophomore Jerrili Malabanan, who had a measly six points, has to start living up to her surname for the Lady Tamaraws.
The Lady Spikers gave away 37 points to FEU courtesy of errors, the most dissapointing of which were their careless misreceives. "La Salle was leading in the third set but its first ball [or inital reception] suddenly collapsed," recalls Mozzy. This resulted in a badly-executed play that translated well for the Lady Tams. The Lady Spikers also staved off their own rally with attack errors, services that went long, and net touches. Not to mention FEU's winning point, which came from an attack error by Cyd Demecillo.
Stick to their strong serves
At the end of the elimination round, La Salle was the best serving team, but Game 1 saw the Lady Spikers mustering just three service aces during the two-hour, 26-minute match. This stat, adds Mozzy, made it easy for FEU to impress with its defense. Although the Lady Tamaraws had less excellent receptions (42-47: the number of times FEU converted a service from a Lady Spikers into a point), the squad registered 102 digs compared to La Salle's 82.
Guard the net more and consistently
Although La Salle's denial at the net was more superb than FEU's, this doesn't mean that the towers from Taft outplayed their Morayta counterparts. Yes, the Lady Spikers had 10 blocks to the Lady Tams' paltry two, but most of the former's crucial errors were net violations—either they touched the net or their hands overreached in a block attempt. Height is might also in volleyball, and La Salle better take advantage of it.
Photography by KC Cruz