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FEU gains finals; UST foils Ateneo

Far Eastern University survived National University’s spirited challenge to pull off a 25-14, 16-25, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12 victory and book the first men’s finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.

Like in Game 1 where they also prevailed in five sets, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 16-14, the Tamaraws came through with huge defensive stops at the crunch to frustrate the Bulldogs as they completed a two-game sweep of their semis series.

For beating the Bulldogs, the Tamaraws advanced to the finals for the first time since joining the league in 2014.

More importantly, they bettered their third-place finish three years ago.

Outside hitter Redijohn Paler produced yet another impressive performance by pumping in 14 of his 17 points in kills to lead the Tamaraws to victory.

Meantime, University of Santo Tomas shocked reigning champion Ateneo, 25-22, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, and forced a winner-take-all match.

Joshua Umandal and Arnold Bautista sizzled with 23 and 16 points, respectively, for UST, which took advantage on the absence of Ateneo main man Marck Espejo, who was currently playing in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament.

It was Ateneo’s first loss in the conference after an eight-game winning run, including a 25-19, 25-15, 25-21 semifinal win in Game 1 four days ago.

John Paul Bugaoan added 14 points built on 10 attacks and four aces.

FEU could have closed the match early, but several miscommunications on the defensive end allowed NU to extend the match to a deciding fifth set.

Though the Tamaraws were outhit, 63-50, they got the breaks they needed when they produced eight service aces.

Raymond Bautista and Salmar Provido contributed nine points apiece for FEU, even as libero Rikko Marmeto had 17 excellent digs.

The Bulldogs, runners-up over the last two years, had John Vincent Ogoc and Fauzi Ismail scoring 19 and 18 points, respectively, but the team’s 33 errors and erratic hastened their downfall.