Text by Luisa Morales
Photo by Mark Kevin Reginio
Time has come for the curtain call.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons close their season with a loss, bowing down to the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in three sets, 16-25, 16-25, 25-27, at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan, Wednesday.
In a heartbreaking loss, the Diliman squad failed to book a final four ticket; finishing the season with a 7-7 win-loss card.
UP kept it close at the start of the match, playing at pace with the Tamaraws. By the middle of the set, State U only trailed by 2, 16-14.
However, the Lady Tamaraws gained steam coming from the technical timeout. A dominating 9-2 run at end the set gave FEU a 1-0 lead, 25-16.
It was another neck-and-neck start in the second set, both teams scoring back and forth. The Lady Tamaraws held a single point advantage over UP, 8-7.
But another huge run from the Sampaloc-based squad helped them pull away from the struggling Lady Maroons. At one point of the set, FEU was up by 10, 21-11.
Despite a late run from UP, the deficit proved too big to overcome.
FEU took a commanding 2-0 lead, 25-16.
Trailing by two sets, the Diliman squad looked out of the fight. It was a slow start for State U at the beginning of the third set, with FEU up 4-0.
But a crucial run brought UP back into the set. Scoring six straight points, the Lady Maroons held a three-point advantage by the first technical timeout, 8-5.
Eager to extend the match, the Lady Maroons battled to keep themselves alive.
FEU was at match point, 24-21 but UP wasn’t going down just yet. Late game heroics from veterans Kathy Bersola and Nicole Tiamzon powered the Maroons to extend the set.
The whole arena was on their feet with the teams tied at 25-all. But questionable calls from the officials gave FEU the match, 27-25.
The loss signaled the end of the season for the Lady Maroons. And for veterans Bersola, Tiamzon and Princess Gaiser, everything has come to an end.
The match was the culmination of the trio’s career in UP.
Despite the disappointing loss, Tiamzon remains grateful for the opportunity to play for the Lady Maroons for five consecutive years.
“Wala kaming ibang masasabi kundi thank you sa limang taon na binigay niyo rin sa’min na pagtitiwala, sa limang taon na privilege to play for UP, ” she said.
Bersola, who regrets not being a hundred percent in the 14 games they played, believes that they were able to re-establish UP as a Final Four contender team, especially after they were able to enter the Final Four last season after missing the semifinals for 12 years.
“Siguro yung pinaka legacy namin is sinubukan talaga namin ibalik yung winning ways sa UP, the former skipper said.
Gaiser, who is now recovering from a torn ACL, takes pride in the fight her teammates showed.
She kept reminding her teammates to “play with passion and pride and play because you want to.”
The final games of the elimination on Saturday will feature a battle for the top seed between the Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles and the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers, while the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses will try to hang on to the third spot and eliminate the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs.