Far Eastern University will be relying on its championship experience as it braces for a title showdown with University of the Philippines in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference starting Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The Lady Tams finished runner-up to absentee National U side here last year with the Morayta-based squad also taking home the silver in the UAAP Season 80 volley wars, making them armed with the needed experience in such title clashes to vie again for a crown.
That can’t be said for the Diliman-based squad, whose best finish in a high-level tournament was a Final Four stint in the UAAP three years ago.
“That’s really an advantage (experience) compared to the first-time UP, so in a way we have the slight edge,” said FEU coach George Pascua, whose No. 3 squad upended the second ranked UST in the Final Four in come-from-behind fashion in their best-of-three semifinal series, 2-1.
Pascua will be pinning his hopes on veterans Jerrili Malabanan, Celine Domingo, Heather Guino-o, setter Kyle Negrito and top rookie Lycha Ebon as they take on the Lady Maroons in Game One of their best-of-three series Sunday.
But Pascua and the Lady Tams aren’t taking their rivals lightly. In fact, they said UP isn’t a pushover team after the fourth seed Lady Maroons stunned the No. 1 and elims sweeper Adamson U Lady Falcons, 2-1, in their side of the semis.
“It’s really hard to be over-confident since all teams are unpredictable,” said Pascua. “So it will be a question of character and desire.”
That’s what the Lady Maroons showed in toppling the fancied Lady Falcons with coach Godfrey Okumu expecting to draw the same from his gritty bunch composed of top hitters Isa Molde and Marian Buitre, Marist Layug, Aie Gannaban and sophomore Roselyn Rosier along with veteran setter Ayel Estranero and a young but steady playmaker Marianne Sotomil.
“UP’s game is very unpredictable, anybody can step up at any given game, so we have to plan,” said Pascua.
Meanwhile, National U and FEU clash at 10 a.m. today in a sudden death for the right to face UST in the men’s finals of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.
The top seeded Bulldogs got back at the Tams, 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, last Sunday to force a rubber match after the latter stunned the former in Game One, 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-23.
The Tigers, meanwhile, swept the Adamson Falcons in their side of the best-of-three semis, scoring a 25-15, 16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-8 victory in Game Two.