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Tams in do-or-die

Far Eastern University lived for another day as it outlasted National University, 22-25, 26-24, 28-26, 25-17, yesterday in the stepladder semifinals of the UAAP men’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The Tamaraws hung tough in the crucial moments of the second and third set and leaned on their all-around attacks to forge a do-or-die match against the Bulldogs for the remaining finals berth.
Ateneo clinched the first championship seat after a 14-game elims sweep.

Jude Garcia pumped in with 16 points, while skipper Richard Solis fired 13 kills for 15 points to spearhead FEU, which is aiming for its first finals appearance in four years.

“Medyo gigil yung mga bata nung first set pero sinabi ko sa kanila, hindi kami dapat maglaro nang laro lang. Dapat smart volleyball,” said FEU Coach Rey Diaz.

NU showed no signs of giving up particularly in the third frame, where it rallied from a 20-13 deficit to a 26-25 lead.

But Garcia and Solis stepped up for FEU with combination attacks by firing three straight points to get the set win.

The Bulldogs failed to recover since then as the Tamaraws zoomed to a quick 6-2 lead en route to victory.

“Underdog talaga kami sa height. Hindi talaga namin sila makuha sa mataas na volleyball, pero sa bandang huli naman, hindi sila bumitaw,” said Diaz.

Dolor also shone for FEU with 14 points including 11 attacks, while Redijohn Paler chipped in 10 points.

The Tamaraws not only overshadowed the combined 33-point output of Bryan Bagunas, James Natividad, and Madzlan Gampong, but also limited Fauzi Ismail to only six points.

Though FEU committed 39 errors, the Tamaraws dominated the Bulldogs on attacks, 47-41; blocks, 8-5; and service aces, 9-7.