Lady Bulldogs, Lady Tamaraws dispute last UAAP finals berth

John Bryan Ulanday - Philstar.com
Lady Bulldogs, Lady Tamaraws dispute last UAAP finals berth
“Do-or-die na po e. Wala nang urungan,” said former Most Valuable Player and this season’s top MVP candidate Bella Belen. 
UAAP Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines – Top-ranked National University and fourth-seeded Far Eastern University lock horns in a do-or-die mano-a-mano to dispute the last finals ticket in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Lady Tamaraws dragged the Lady Bulldogs to a sudden death after a stunning 25-23, 25-17, 25-23 sweep in Game 1 and now sport all the momentum to complete a massive upset at 4 p.m.

A win by FEU — the winningest program in women’s volleyball with 29 titles — for its first finals stint since 2018 would revive an old Morayta-España rivalry with No. 2 seed University of Santo Tomas, which snapped a five-year drought of its own after dethroning champion La Salle, 25-20, 16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 15-7 in the other semis bracket. 

“Huwag nating kalimutan na may FEU,” said coach Manolo Refugia, vowing to prepare his Morayta unit that already defied the odds in his rookie season. 

It would be easier said than done but Refugia, with Lady Tamaraws legend and consultant Tina Salak by his side, brims with confidence in getting the job done even against the fancied Lady Bulldogs. 

“Job’s not finished so kailangan pa trabahuhin, konti nalang naman eh. Sakripisyo lang,” he said, tasking ace rookie Faida Bakanke, Chenie Tagaod, Jean Asis, Gerzel Petallo and Mitzi Panangin with playmaker Tin Ubaldo to lead the way. 

“Hindi kami makakalimot na tumapak parin sa lupa. Parang nasa cloud nine pa kami so kailangan bumalik kasi hindi pa tapos talaga. Kaya pa, may ibubuga pa. Laban lang talaga.”

Even with the momentum on FEU’s side though and a lost advantage, NU is not lacking in confidence to book its third straight finals ticket and a shot at redemption, especially with champion La Salle already out of the picture. 

“Do-or-die na po e. Wala nang urungan,” said former Most Valuable Player and this season’s top MVP candidate Bella Belen. 

“Kilala ko yung teammates ko, kilala ko yung team ko, kilala ko yung ano ‘yung kaya naming gawin. Alam kong babawi kami. Fighter ‘yung team namin. Dito masusubok yung pagiging buo namin.”

Meanwhile, three-time champion and twice-to-beat NU eyes a quick finals trip against No. 3 La Salle at 12 p.m. as No. 1 FEU and No. 4 UST slug it out in a sudden death at 2 p.m.  

NU carved out a thrilling 19-25, 25-21, 25-13, 21-25, 16-14 playoff win to secure the No. 2 seed while twice-to-win Santo Tomas stunned FEU in straight sets, 25-23, 25-19, 28-26, to force a knockout Game 2.

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