UP triumphs over UE in season endgame; vows Final Four comeback

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Nica Rhiana Hanopol

After a slow start in the first set, the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Fighting Maroons finished off their season run with a victory against the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors, 14-25, 25-22, 25-23, 25-23, at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym, Saturday.

After the win, the Lady Maroons ended the season at sixth with a 6-8 record, tied with Adamson University.

Hindi ko talaga priority ‘yung palo no’ng una, pero siguro gusto ko talaga [na manalo],” UP outside hitter Isa Molde said after leading her team for the first time this season with 14 attacks, four service aces, and a kill block.

Backs against the wal

The UP squad had a slow start in the first with captain Tots Carlos and Isa Molde exchanging smart attacks with UE outside hitter Judith Abil and graduating ace spiker Shaya Adorador.

Molde managed two consecutive aces with added help from the soft touch by UP co-captain Ayel Estranero, that allowed UP to take the lead early in the set, 8-5.

But the tables turned when Adorador stepped into the service line, making it difficult for the Lady Maroons to convert receives to attack points.  

The Lady Warriors led a 0-8 run, with the help of UE libero Kat Arado who did not allow any ball to fall on their side of floor and Adorador’s service aces.

UE lost its momentum with an error from a rally, 9-13, but State U returned the favor by committing a series of defensive errors that let their oppointent manage another 0-4 run.

UP setter Rem Cailing finally stopped the bleeding with a one-two play, 10-17. But Coach Gody Okumu took her out of the court after another error, putting in UP wing spiker Marian Buitre who has not played for several games in the season with Estranero acting as setter.

UE won rally after rally with Arado keeping their defense alive, 11-19.

Despite having their backs against the wall, UP did not go down without swinging as Carlos and Molde string some off-the-block hits, 13-20.

Still, State U’s errors proved to be the winning strategy of the Lady Warriors, ending the set at 14-25.

Bounce back

By the second set, the Lady Maroons were still trailing behind the Lady Warriors as they committed hitting errors courtesy of Carlos, Cailing, and middle hitter Jessma Ramos.

UP captain Tots Carlos elevated and kept her team afloat, 6-7. But UP took two steps back, giving away easy points to UE.

Meanwhile, UP middle blocker Layug woke up to shift the momentum back to the Maroons with blocks on Adorador’s attacks, 9-8.

UE’s Me-an Mendrez retaliated with a quick down-the-line hit, but Buitre replied with a block on her second try.

Both Layug and Buitre contributed to the scoring spree with service aces and quick attacks to bring their team up, 12-10. Molde also got fired up, attacking from the crosscourt and through the hands of Mendrez.

The Lady Maroons tried to keep the lead on their side with Ramos killing an over-receive off of Buitre’s service, 14-11.

But UE captain Baliton will not let her team down with quick-witted attacks and a service ace, 14-13.

Both squads chase the lead, deadlocking at 14-14, 15-15, 17-17, but UE reclaimed the lead with Adorador serving once again.

UP still struggled to find their groove and gave up another point with an attack error 18-20.

Determined to bounce back, UP managed to keep the ball in the air, allowing Carlos and Molde to strike hard-driven spikes.

The match tied with UE’s errors, 21-21, but Layug surprised the opponent defense with her intense serves, leading the team to match point, 24-21.

UP completed its bounce back with a lucky save by libero Justine Dorog that pushed UE to commit an error at the antenna, 25-22.

Fighting Maroons

It was a seesaw battle with the game tied one set apiece.

Both eager to get ahead in the game, the teams rallied point after point, 1-1, 3-3, 5-5, 9-9, 10-10, and 12-12.

But Coach Okumu, who seemed unsatisfied with the head-to-head match, tried to experiment with his lineup and replaced UP captain Carlos with rookie Lady Maroon Roselyn Rosier.

Rosier quickly attacked on the service line, getting help from Buitre who amazed the crowd with her decisive hits and blocks.

With Molde unloading strong services, Rosier directed an off-the-block hit in the frontline, 14-12.

UP accomplished a 3-1 run, with Estranero playing setter and winning a joust against the tall UE lineup, 16-13.

But the Lady Warriors responded with a 0-8 run, courtesy of service aces by Abil, completely dismantling the efforts of the State U, 16-21.

Buitre, enjoying her court time, handled a kill block and an attack, 18-21.

Carlos returned to the game with a rejuvenated block, inching closer to a tie. No team allowed their opponent to pull away, 21-21 and 22-22.

But UP demonstrated their fighting spirit, headed by Buitre who ended the set with another kill block, 25-23.

Returning strong

With a two-set advantage, the Lady Maroons came in the fourth set armed with strong serves and clever attacks.

During the first half of the set, UP played catch up with Adorador putting pressure on the defense of UP, 7-10.

The Lady Warriors continued to enjoy a comfortable cushion, with Arado handling the hits of Buitre, Ramos, Carlos, and Molde, 9-13.

UP caused a 4-3 run against the Lady Warriors, with a one-hand block by Layug against veteran Adorador.

Unfazed by Arado’s defense, Carlos hit a strong spike and Molde with a fierce crosscourt attack to inch closer to UE, 17-18.

Molde took over the scoring streak through three consecutive off-the block hits, 20-20. She also tricked Arado with an off-speed attack, gaining the lead for the UP squad.

UE also showed their warrior spirit, as Mendrez, Adorador, and Abil take off with their forceful downward angle against the UP defense to tie the game once again, 23-23.

But the errors on the UE side swung the momentum to the State U, allowing Carlos to finish the season with an angled hit.

It was strong, but I was thinking of a 3-0,” said Coach Okumu after her team suffered a total of 40 errors in the game, almost at par with the turnout during their first encounter with the UE squad.  

Despite not fulfilling their final four hopes, the UP squad is looking to come back next season with a stronger and more intact team under the headship of the Kenyan Coach.

Matanda na kami, so uhaw na kami diyan [final four],” said Carlos, who garnered 11 attacks, one kill block, and two service aces.

Coach Okumu also guaranteed that they will not wait for anyone to lose next season, putting their fate into their own hands to finally return to the final four.

 

UP stuns Ateneo in straight-set win

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Nica Rhiana Hanopol

In a heart-stopping match, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons silenced the blue-clad crowd after sweeping the higher-seeded Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Lady Eagles in the final stretch of UAAP Season 80 at the Mall of Asia Arena, 28-26, 25-23, 26-24, Saturday.

Armed with sharp services and sturdy blocks, the Lady Maroons gave the Lady Eagles a taste of their own medicine, tying the Battle of Katipunan this season.

Sinasabi na lang namin na no pressure, laro na lang. Kita naman sa laro na sobrang nag-eenjoy kami every point,” said UP captain Tots Carlos, who amassed 22 points off of 18 spikes, three service aces, a kill block, and eight excellent digs.

The Lady Maroons are out of contention as the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs defeated the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors in a three-set match today.

Head-to-head

Relying on the sharp attacks of Isa Molde and Carlos, the UP squad led a tough first set.

The State U was going head-to-head against Ateneo open hitter Kat Tolentino’s towering spikes, 5-3, 7-5, 9-6, 11-8, and 13-10. But middle blockers Maris Layug and Jessma Ramos played equally aggressive at the net to match the Ateneo wall.

Meanwhile, setter Rose Cailing distributes the ball smoothly to her spikers, 14-10, but does not leave her scoreboard empty after orchestrating her one-two play against the Lady Eagles.

Throughout the set, both squads tried to outwit each other, with Ateneo playing catch up as Tolentino produced the points for her team.

She also had the aid of captain Maddie Madayag’s running hits and Jho Maraguinot’s crosscourt assault.

Late in the set, UP continued to enjoy a comfortable cushion with all-around-player Ayel Estranero bringing the team in the 20-point mark, with her smart plays and loaded serves.

But Ateneo displayed their heartstrong mantra as Maraguinot string more points, to add to her team’s 4-2 run to inch closer to the Maroons, 22-20.

Carlos responds with her fierce down-the-line spikes, but it proved to be UP’s errors that helped Ateneo tie the match in 24 points apiece.

Ateneo returns the favor with a crucial spiking error, 28-26, despite UP’s several misqueues toward the end of the set.

The Diliman Wall

Both teams exchanged errors at the start of the second set, but UP stabbed Ateneo’s defense with Carlos’ precise hit, giving them the first lead.

It was a see-saw battle as the Katipunan squads rally point-by-point, in total of six deadlocks in the set. But UP soon gave Ateneo the advantage, 15-19, as they committed consecutive errors at the net.

Unfazed by 11 errors in the match, the UP squad bounced back quickly in the set, blocking the powerful attacks of Madayag and Maraguinot.

Molde completed UP’s come-from-behind rally with two service aces in a row to tie the game, 21-21.

But Madayag took advantage of another error on the UP side, quickly scoring in the middle to inch her team closer to a set win and, 23-21.

Grappling for a set win, Ateneo setter Deanna Wong attempted a one-two play, but Estranero swipes and draws the match again at 23-23.

UP captain Carlos successfully swings back the momentum to her team with a critical jump serve ace, but it was the Diliman wall courtesy of Layug that ended the set, 25-23.

Finishing strong

The third set suffered the same fate as the second, with both teams rallying for each point and trading errors, to keep a tight score.

Ateneo pulled away in the middle of the set, 14-19, with Tolentino and de Leon soaring for the Eagles, while a Carlos’ service error allowed them to step in 20.

UP looked calm in spite of 13 errors and continued to play their game until they recovered through  off-the-block hits by Molde and Carlos, and an ace by rookie Abbie Lim, enough to close the match at 22-23.

But Ateneo was not about to let State U steal the match just yet, as Maraguinot makes up a forceful attack from a poor service-receive, 24-24.

Carlos saved the second set point with her hard and fast spike, with the help of Ramos’ heavy serve and Layug manning the net, 25-24.

Hindi naman pwede na papatalo lang kami. ‘Di sila [Ateneo] ‘yung mabilis mag-give up, sila yung team na sobrang lakas ng loob, confident,” Carlos said.

The UP Lady Fighting Maroons played a comeback game after last winning against the Ateneo squad in a four-set match in Season 78, where they also held a spot in the final four.

They garnered a total of 11 block points against the best blocking team, who attained only eight in the entire match.

Every time na nakakablock ako, ‘yun yung para sa nangyari sa akin nung first round,” said Ramos, who suffered a right foot sprain in their first round meeting against Ateneo.

Despite losing their final four chances, the UP squad still aims to finish strong in the season, evidently seen in their 21 excellent sets and seven service aces against Ateneo’s 18 and one.

I say we finish strong. That’s what we ought to do, that’s what we came to do, and that’s what we did,” said Coach Okumu, who also thanked the fans for never giving up on the team.

UP hopes to bring the same mindset in their last game for the season against UE, vying for back-to-back-to-back straight set victories.

UP scores sweep at expense of skidding NU

Text and photo by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons have bounced back in spectacular fashion.

Keeping their final four hopes alive, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons overpowered the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in straight sets, 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Relying on loaded serves and powerful attacks, State U fought their way to the team’s first straight-set win of the season.

UP dedicated the emphatic win to the late Lourdes Guerrero, former president and founder of the UP Women’s Volleyball Team Alumni Association, playing the match with black armbands on their sleeves.

Guerrero suited up for the Lady Maroons back in 1988 and served as the president of the alumni association until 2016.

UP catches groove early

It was a back and forth affair at the start of the match with both squads exchanging runs early in the set.

NU had the upper hand in the beginning, leading 7-4 but a 7-point flurry from the Maroon offense courtesy go-to hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde quickly placed them at an advantage, 11-7.

Despite efforts from the Lady Bulldogs to trim the lead, UP held on to draw first blood, 25-18.

Playing catch up

Unfazed by UP’s one-set lead, the Lady Bulldogs were quick to bite in the second. The Sampaloc-squad doubled up on State U early, 10-5.

But the Lady Maroons took advantage of NU’s errors, and the same time orchestrated attacks of their own to trim the lead to two by the second technical timeout, 14-16.

UP eventually caught up to put the teams at deadlock, 19-all.

Launching attacks from all parts of the court, UP rallied to take the set with an Ayel Estranero hit, 25-22.

State U finds endgame

Carrying the momentum from a 2-0 lead, it was all State U in the third and final set. The Diliman squad held a comfortable cushion, 13-7.

The Lady Bulldogs tried to get back and trailed only by three late in the match, 18-21 but UP had it all under control.

State U ended the match with a Jessma Ramos hit, 25-20.

It was a team effort for the Diliman squad, skipper Tots Carlos led the squad with 18 points while Molde chipped in 10.

Lady Maroon Ayel Estranero attributed the emphatic win to proper execution on the court. “We were able to apply very well what we actually did in training like all the instructions of coach and all his reminders were really put into play” she said.

For Carlos, the sweep provided a boost to the team’s morale after all their struggles this season.

“Syempre, sobrang saya… sobrang lakas ng team nila, lalo na si Jaja (Santiago) [pero] naapply namin yung ginawa namin sa training” Carlos said.

Santiago led the Lady Bulldogs with a game-high 19 points.

UP improves to a 4-8 standing. But even with the win, the team’s final four hopes are still hanging on a string.

Lady Maroon head coach Godfrey Okumu says his team is simply focusing on the remaining games ahead, regardless of the F4 results.

“As I said before, we want to finish the season strong” he said.

Okumu and his team hope to build on this win when they go against higher-seeded Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles on Saturday, April 7.

UP F4 hopes diminish after loss to FEU

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons can’t seem to stop the skid.

Despite another strong start, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons faltered against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in four sets, 25-21, 15-25, 20-25, 22-25 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Suffering their third straight loss, UP finds themselves buried in the rankings with a dismal 3-8 record.

Silent but strong start

It was a peculiar situation for the Lady Maroons.

The match started quietly with the ever-present UP Pep Squad Drummers missing in action. But the silence seemed helpful to the Diliman squad. With a quick 7-1 lead early on, UP was on fire.

State U was able to sustain the energy, leading FEU by as much as eight, 20-12.

The Lady Tamaraws would pose a run of their own to inch closer to the Lady Maroons.

But the comeback was dashed with a Carlota Hernandez service error to give UP the set, 25-21.

Losing momentum

Carrying over from their first set win, UP was once again able to start strong.

Both squads traded blows and kept the game close midway, 10-all.

However, frequent errors from the Lady Maroons and a balanced offensive effort from the Lady Tamaraws gave FEU an advantage.

UP couldn’t adjust in time and gave the set to FEU, 16-25.

Morale woes haunt Lady Maroons

Seemingly disheartened by the set loss, UP was kept at a disadvantage for most of the third.

Struggling to catch up with the Morayta squad, UP held them at deadlock in the middle of the set, 10-all.

But the Lady Maroons couldn’t go over the hump. Smart offense from FEU helped them pull away from State U, 21-15.

Despite an effort from the Diliman squad to get back in the game, the deficit proved too much as they dropped the third, 20-25.

Comeback in clutch falls short

Looking to get back into the match, UP once again picked up the pace.

The Lady Maroons held a sizeable but short-lived lead early, 8-5. The Lady Tamaraws were quick to recover, resulting in a deadlock, 12-all.

Riding on momentum, FEU continued to outperform State U to reach match point, 24-20.

UP managed to save two more points but eventually succumbed to the Tamaraws, 22-25.

Go-to scorers Tots Carlos and Isa Molde paced the Lady Maroons with 23 and 18 markers each. While FEU skipper Bernadeth Pons led the Lady Tamaraws with 15.

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu once again rued his players’ lack of attention and inability to execute their gameplan.

“We prepared well, but sometimes if we don’t stick to the plan… we really have to face the [consequences] by losing the game,” he said.

The Lady Maroons’ bid for a final four spot is hanging by a thread. With only three remaining games in the season, Coach Okumu wants a positive end for his team – no matter what the standing.

“I still want to win… I want to finish strong,” Okumu said.

Meanwhile, team captain Carlos stays determined to give their all in spite of their semis chances.

“Kailangan namin maglaro ng maayos… [kahit] medyo konti nalang yung pag-asa na nasa final four kami. Gusto lang namin ibigay yung lahat ng meron kami,” she said.

UP hopes to break the silence and score their third win when they go against higher-seeded National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs on April 4, Wednesday.

UP falls to UST in four sets, slides further away from F4

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons are skidding once again.

The University of the Philippines (UP) suffer another setback, falling against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses in four sets, 25-19, 28-30, 20-25, 16-25 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Unable to capitalize on a first set win, UP found themselves lost and out of focus in the match.

UP finds groove early

The Lady Maroons were off to a strong start. A balanced offensive effort from State U gave them the lead early, 8-5.

But the Tigresses were quick to recover, catching up with the Diliman squad, 10-all.

Both squads traded blows in the middle of the set, resulting in seven deadlocks and four lead changes.

Eventually, UP was able to pull away in time to draw first blood, 25-19.

Back-and-forth affair

By the second set, it was UST’s turn to start strong.

Relying on high flying attacks from Sisi Rondina, the Tigresses led State U for most of the second.

Determined to swing momentum back on their side, the Maroons made runs of their own to catch up with UST, 15-all.

Attacks and errors from both sides kept the set close, with neither team pulling away. The Tigresses were the first to reach set point at 24-23, but the Lady Maroons had other plans.

Clutch plays extended the set until a final deadlock at 28-all, but a block point from UST and a crucial error from Lady Maroon Isa Molde eventually gave the set to UST, 30-28.

Comeback falls short

It was another stellar start for the Espana squad in the third. Bringing their momentum from a huge second set win, UST dominated early in the match.

Errors plagued State U and gave UST a comfortable cushion, 15-7.

Just when the Lady Maroons looked out of the fight, heroics from Molde and Ayel Estranero slowly chipped away at the Tigress lead to cut it down to one, 14-15.

Despite the comeback, UST was able to capitalize once again on UP’s errors and clinched the set, 25-20.

Down and out

Frustration started to kick in for State U come the fourth set, another hot start for the Espana team had the Lady Maroons scrambling to find any offense.

Despite attempts to try and cut into the lead, UP just couldn’t get back on their feet. Losing steam, UST eventually overpowered them to take the set and match, 25-16.

Wasted chances

UP head Coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s performance in the game, attributing their loss from a lack of concentration and trying to do too much.

“They lost their cool… they were trying to do two or three things at a time. We didn’t have peace of mind” Okumu said after the game.

The Kenyan coach also expressed frustration on wasted chances in the match.

“We started well, the two sets were perfect… we had so many chances to win that second set but we just let it go,” he said.

UP skipper Tots Carlos led the Maroons in offense with 24 markers, while Rondina paced the Tigresses with 25.

Carlos, meanwhile, rued the issue of morale among the team after the match. “Morale talaga eh, yung attitude ng players… biglang hindi nalang kami gumalaw, hindi na kami lumaban,” she said.

The loss puts UP at a 3-7 slate and with their final four hopes hanging by a thread, State U will hope to slow down and get back on the win column when the face higher-seed Far Eastern University on Saturday, March 24.

Lady Maroons suffer DLSU blowout

Photo and text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons are back to their losing ways.

Haunted by reception woes once again, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons fell victim to another sweep against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers, 15-25, 19-25, 19-25, today at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champs bombarded UP with a total of 15 service aces. Combining this with a strong offensive outing, the Lady Spikers were able to shut down State U.

Last season’s finals MVP Desiree Cheng and Kim Kianna Dy led the way for DLSU, scoring 14 points each. The duo also scored nine out of La Salle’s 15 service aces.

UP skipper Tots Carlos and Isa Molde were the only bright spots for the Diliman squad, scoring 16 and 10 markers, respectively.

Slow starting Maroons

UP struggled to find their rhythm from the get-go, as DLSU held a three-point cushion at the first technical timeout, 8-5.

The green and white dominated from then on, loaded serves and attack errors kept on hurting the Lady Maroons. It was a cruise for the defending champions in the opening set as they drew first blood, 25-15.

Losing steam

It was another hot start for the Taft-based squad as UP had themselves down by four early in the set, 4-8. However, the Lady Maroons were able to recover quickly to take the lead, 10-9, courtesy of attacks from Carlos and Ayel Estrañero.

However, the lead was short lived with DLSU making a run of their own to get back on top, 16-14.

UP struggled to play at pace with the Lady Spikers but kept it close towards the end of the set, 18-21. The Lady Spikers then went on a 4-1 run capped off by an ace from Aduke Ogunsanya to take a 2-0 lead, 25-19.

Playing catch up

Determined to extend the match, it was State U’s turn to start strong, as a quick 3-0 start helped the team maintain the lead at the start of the third, 8-5.

Banking on their experience and maturity, the Lady Spikers played unfazed as they pulled away by the second technical timeout, 16-13.

However, the ladies in maroon weren’t going to give up just yet as they were able to trim the La Salle lead to one, 17-18, prompting DLSU coach Ramil de Jesus to call time.

Coach RDJ’s timeout proved effective as the Lady Spikers eventually dumped UP, 25-19 to take the match.

Failed offense

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s inability to take advantage of their good defense in the match.

“As you can see today, we had a plan but luck was not on our side. We defended well but we couldn’t counterattack. We had many chance balls but we couldn’t use them,” the Kenyan tactician said.

The loss puts UP at a 3-6 slate. With the season in full swing, UP puts itself in a crucial position to fight for a final four spot; however, Okumu remains positive and aims for improvement.

“By playing hard and winning most of our remaining games, that’s the way we could go back,” he added.

The Fighting Lady Maroons hope to duplicate a first round win against the skidding University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses as they face them on Saturday, March 17.

UP SDC dances to another podium finish

Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Reiven Pascasio

The Maroons flew up high once again.

The University of the Philippines Street Dance Club (UP SDC) ran away with another podium bagging third place in this year’s UAAP Street Dance Competition at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.

UP danced along to throwback hits like Hataw na by Gary Valenciano and Bagsakan by Parokya ni Edgar; garnering a score of 78.60, good enough to claim the bronze.

Consistently placing in the podium ever since the competition’s inception in 2011, UP went off for another great performance.

The squad trailed closely behind La Salle Dance Company – Street’s (LSDC-Street) 79.50 and Far Eastern University (FEU) Street Alliance’s 85.75 who took home second place and the championship, respectively.

The Adamson University CAST started the show with their energetic performance, tuning up the crowd’s energy. Followed by the University of the East (UE) Street Warriors, clad in their red jackets moving along with their hot moves to turn up the heat.

But hotter than the Warriors was the butt-themed performance of the University of Sto. Thomas (UST) Prime.

Then it was State U’s time to shine. The streetdance powerhouse never failed with their grooves, promoting local songs and simply having fun with the crowd.

Right after the UP SDC’s performance, the FEU stormed the arena with a gangster-themed performance.      

The show continued with the returning National University (NU) Underdawgz, giving off mafia vibes with their performance.

LSDC- street also made a good campaign to defend their crown with a fierce performance.

Ateneo de Manila University’s Company of Ateneo Dancers capped off the competition with an intense routine of their own.      

In the end, it was the FEU alliance who made their way to the top to clinch their first championship, ending La Salle and UP’s reign in the competition.

Despite not being able to reclaim the crown, UP remained positive after the show.

“We were just having fun onstage and kung ano man yung outcome nun, masaya na kami na napasaya namin yung crowd,” UP SDC captain Angel Basilio said.  

All UAAP universities showed up in this year’s competition together with the participation of NU after missing two consecutive years of dancing on the stage.

This season, the UAAP also introduced the competition in the juniors division with seven high schools competing for the inaugural SDC Jrs. crown.

UST Galvanize nabbed the first ever UAAP Juniors Streetdance title followed by the FEU Baby Tamaraws as first runner-up, and the UE street warriors placing third

Ateneo did not participated in this year’s juniors division.

UP gets revenge over Adamson in five-set thriller

Photo and text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons are back on track.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons started the second round strong after outlasting the Adamson University (AdU) Lady Falcons in a five-set thriller, 25-18, 14-25, 25-19, 21-25, 16-14 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Relying on good passing and offense from go-to hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde, the Diliman squad managed to notch another win.

UP draws first blood

It was a tightly contested game at the start of the first, with neither team getting an advantage

By the second technical timeout, UP only led by a couple, 16-14.

But a series of attacks from the Maroon side helped them pull away in time to take the set, 25-18.

Adamson answers back

Unfazed by UP’s 1-0 lead, the Lady Falcons quickly recovered at the second.

The Lady Maroons would play at pace with AdU early in the set, trailing only by three at the first technical timeout, 5-8.

But the Lady Falcons continuously pounded the Maroon defense to easily extend their lead.

Adamson cruised to a second set win, 25-14 to tie the game at 1-all.

UP doesn’t falter

Despite a deflating second set loss, the Lady Maroons did not let up.

It was all UP from the get-go, firing attacks and taking advantage of their opponents’ errors to lead the Falcons, 21-9.

UP looked ready to run away with the set.But the Lady Falcons said “not yet”. AdU went on a hot 10-1 run to cut the lead to three, 19-22.

To the Diliman crowd’s relief, UP scored three straight to take the lead, 25-22.

Falcons push UP to the limit

Unwilling to let the match slip away, both teams went back-and-forth to start the set.

Adamson eventually pulled away 18-13 at the middle of the fourth.

UP rallied back to cut Adamson’s lead but the Falcons were able to stay with it and force the fifth, 25-21.

Getting the job done

Tensions were high on the court during the deciding fifth set.

Trading scores, both squads were neck and neck throughout.

Adamson was the first to reach match point at 14-13.

But clutch attacks from UP skipper Tots Carlos and veteran Ayel Estrañero gave them just enough firepower to win, 16-14.

With the win, State U splits its season series with Adamson at one win each.

“We were fighting, trying not to lose twice against the same team” UP head coach Godfrey Okumu said after the game.

He lauded the team’s passing and serving as key factors in the win.

UP had 10 service aces against the Falcons, while player of the game Rem Cailing finished with 32 excellent sets.

Carlos and Molde, along with Ali Buitre led UP’s offense. All three Lady Maroons scored double-digits, 22, 18 and 12 points, respectively.

UP improves to a 3-5 record but remains two games behind the fourth spot in the rankings.

Coach Okumu remains positive and wants to take it step-by-step.

“We just have to try to win the remaining games and I don’t care who’s in front of me or who’s behind me, just [take it] one game at a time” he said.

State U will try to build on this win when they go against defending champions De La Salle University on Wednesday, March 14.

NU bites Lady Maroons to end first round

Photo by Kezhia Maglasang

Text by Denver Del Rosario

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons ended the first round on a bad note as they crumbled against the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in three sets, 23-25, 23-25, 17-25, today at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

Despite keeping it close in the first two sets, UP lost rhythm in the final frame as NU played confidently like the top-seed team that they are.

Graduating Jaja Santiago spearheaded the fight for the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points, followed by Risa Sato with 10.

Meanwhile, batchmates Tots Carlos and Isa Molde provided the one-two punch for State U with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

Contested Opening Set

Both teams played step in step at the start of the first set, refusing the other to pull away easily.

A block by Santiago tied the game for the seventh time, 16-all. At that point, the Lady Bulldogs started to pull away as errors plagued the Diliman squad once again.

Doria gave NU set point with an off-the-block attack, 20-24, but UP managed to score three consecutive points. However, the Lady Maroons committed a net infraction, giving away the set to the Lady Bulldogs.

Tight Second Set

NU kept in pace in the following set, taking the driver’s seat early, 4-8. The Lady Bulldogs maintained a comfortable lead going into the second technical timeout.

However, UP rallied to tie the set, 17-all, for the first time since the 3-point mark. A barrage of attacks by Carlos gave UP the lead, 21-20.

NU refused to surrender as Santiago took charge, scoring two attacks to give her team the set point, 22-24.

Molde tried to do last-minute heroics as she registered an attack, but a service error by Marist Layug sealed the set for the Lady Bulldogs, 23-25.

Meltdown Final Set

UP eventually lost steam in the third set as they failed to keep up with the Lady Bulldogs’ attacks and blocks. The lead went as large as seven points at the 14-21 mark, in favor of NU.

Another UP error gave the Lady Bulldogs match point, taken care of by Santiago with a quick attack, 17-25.

Lack of Drive
With the loss, UP remains at the bottom of the heap as the first round ends, taking sixth place with a 2-5 slate.

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu attributed this record to the team’s mental shortcomings.

“The problem is not skills–it’s that sometimes the players are not hungry enough to win,” he said. “They play better, but they play confused again.”

Okumu assessed his team’s first round performance as “inconsistent”, something he said the team needs to work going into the second round.

“We play good volleyball and then bad again,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how well you play if you don’t win–we just have to work on finishing the game.”

Finishing in the lower half of the standings, Okumu said his team needs to win at least five games in the second round for a Final Four chance.

“This is a very interesting season. Don’t count us out yet,” he said.

#UPFightsBack: UP stops skid at expense of UST

Photo and text Luisa Morales

 

Finally, the Fighting Lady Maroons had a breakthrough.

After a four-game skid, the University of the Philippines (UP) is back on the win column after closing the doors on Sisi Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses in four sets, 31-33, 25-23, 25-16, 25-12 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Powered by stellar defense and heroics from Tots Carlos and Isa Molde, the Diliman-based squad notched their second win of the season.

Heart-stopping start

It was a slow start for the Diliman squad. Costly errors from the Lady Maroons and high-flying attacks from Rondina had UP down in the first, 10-19.

UST looked ready to cruise in the first set but State U had other plans. With Carlos and Molde leading the charge, the Maroon offense suddenly caught on fire.

State U went on a blazing 14-5 run to tie the set at 24-all.

The set would go on and on with both teams trading attacks and errors until the squads remain deadlocked at 31-all.

But an attack from Dim Pacres and a service ace from Carla Sandoval would give UST the set, 33-31.

UP breaks the ice

The excitement did not die down after an intense opening set.

Both teams went back and forth in the second, neither squad pulling away. At the second technical timeout, UP had a three-point cushion, 16-13.

Crucial umpire calls kept the Tigresses close behind and would eventually trim State U’s lead to one, 24-23.

Careful not to let his team give up the set, UP head coach Godfrey Okumu called a timeout. During the huddle, Lady Maroon Ali Buitre channelled Paul Desiderio – shouting “Atin to” before the team went back to the match. True to their battlecry, Ayel Estranero would close the set with a powerful block to give the set to UP, 25-23.

UP’s back, shout it out

The Fighting Lady Maroons were back on their feet. Gaining confidence from the second set win, State U stepped up their game.

UST would play at pace with the Diliman-based squad at the start of the set, keeping the scores tied at 12-all. But the Tiger offense was about to be silenced.

Overall good floor defense and nifty attacks from UP would propel them to a 13-4 rally to run away with the set, 25-16.

UP was now a set away from breaking their slump.

UST shutout

By the fourth set, it was all UP.

With momentum on their side, the Fighting Lady Maroons pounded UST, shutting out the Tigresses with blocks and excellent saves.

UST was held to single-digits by the second technical timeout, 7-16.

UP continued to cruise through the set and eventually win the match with a Molde attack off the block, 25-12.

The Maroons seem to have found the answer to their woes.

Carrying more than half of UP’s 106 points, Carlos and Molde led the charge for the Maroons after scoring game-high points with 32 and 24, respectively.

Carlos reiterated the importance of finally breaking the losing streak in an interview after the game.

“Sobrang importante, sobrang bumaba kami eh… Nakakapagod matalo so kailangan namin idefend, kailangan namin lumaban,” she said.

Meanwhile, coach Okumu had a special shoutout for the Diliman community.

“The champions for UP [are] the fans. They’ve been with us, [even if] we’ve not been playing well… Thank you so much for all the fans out there,” he said after the game.

UP now improves to 2-4 and hopes to go on a win streak when they face the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, March 4.

 

 

Erratum: Ayel Estranero was the one to score at the end of the second to clinch the set, 25-23 and not Ali Buitre.

Battle of Katipunan: UP gets swept by Ateneo

Photo by Maegan Gaspar

Text by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons just can’t seem to bounce back.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons faltered in today’s Battle of Katipunan, losing in straight sets against the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles, 20-25, 22-25, 26-28 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Giving Ateneo their first sweep of the season, the Lady Maroons skid to a 1-4 record after losing four in a row.

A back-and-forth affair

It was a tight race during the opening set. Despite a 4-0 start by the Lady Eagles, UP recovered fast courtesy of a flurry of attacks from Tots Carlos and Isa Molde and led in the first technical timeout, 8-7.

Both teams exchanged attacks throughout the set but ADMU managed to pull away in time to draw first blood, 25-20.

Comeback falls short

The Lady Eagles took control once again in the start of the second, leading the Diliman-based squad 8-3 at the first technical timeout.

Numerous errors from State U and spectacular offense gave Ateneo a comfortable lead for most of the set.

Just when ADMU looked poised to run away with the second, the Lady Maroons suddenly caught fire.

Taking advantage of consecutive Ateneo errors, UP crawled back into the set. Despite the tremendous comeback and saving two set points, ADMU still managed to take a 2-0 lead.

Plagued by errors

During the third, it was UP’s turn to start strong but errors from the Maroon side kept ADMU close.

However, bad news came for the Lady Maroons when a bad fall resulted in middle blocker Jessma Ramos spraining her right ankle in the middle of the set.

Determined to take a set and extend the match, UP played at pace with the Lady Eagles.

Both teams traded attacks and errors resulting in 15 deadlocks in the final set. Despite saving two match points and reaching a set point of their own, costly errors eventually gave Ateneo the match, 28-26.

Ultimately, errors spelled the difference in the game. UP had eight more errors than their opponents, 26-18. While the squads remained almost equal in every other aspect of the match.

Carlos and Molde paced the Lady Maroons, scoring double figures with 20 and 16 points while Jules Samonte and Jhoanna Maraguinot led the Lady Eagles with 15 and 11, respectively.

“We play to win, not only play well. Because playing well never gives results, winning gives results,” UP head coach Godfrey Okumu said after the game.

Okumu reiterated that his team is in the rebuilding phase and will be facing another challenge after losing Ramos for more or less a week because of injury.

The UP mentor also remains optimistic despite the four-game losing streak. “I believe if we push just a little more like the way we pushed today, there will be different results” he added.

UP hopes to snap their losing streak when they go against Sisi Rondina and the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses on Wednesday, Feb. 28.

UP loses third straight, gets swept by FEU

Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Mark Kevin Reginio

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons extend their losing skid after falling against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws in straight sets, 23-25, 12-25, 19-25, in the first round of UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Arena, Saturday.

UP had a strong start in the opening set reaching the 20-point mark first, but the Lady Maroons’ defense scrambled late in the set as Lady Tamaraw Toni Basas fired three canons from the right to snatch the set away, 25-23.

The Morayta-based squad carried the momentum in the second to limit the Diliman-based team’s offense to  only 12 points. The Lady Tamaraws took a dominating 2-0 lead after taking the second set, 25-12.

UP’s team captain Tots Carlos carried the load in the second set scoring five of her 15 points in that set while Isa Molde was limited to only four points in the whole game.

The Lady Maroons had a little show in the start of the third set but was easily ended by Isa Molde’s consecutive attack errors to give the Lady Tamaraws a comfortable 7-point lead going to the second technical timeout.

Meanwhile, Heather Guino-o and Basas led the charge for FEU with 11 and 10 markers, respectively, while team captain Bernadette Pons contributed nine points, eight coming from attacks.

UP’s head coach Godfrey Okumu said the team has had problems with finishing a game, even a set.

“Again, our finishing has been a problem for a quite sometime now. I believe my glasses are half full. I’m gonna fill it in time,” he said after the game.

UP committed 35 unforced errors in total while FEU managed to limit their errors at 23 which is half of their mistakes against the defending champions, De La Salle University in their last match.

Lady Tamaraws’ head coach George Pascua was happy about the performance of her girls especially after minimizing their unforced errors.

“Na-lessen naman yung errors [and] na-meet din naman yung expectations namin,” he said.

FEU will next face the winless University of the East Lady Warriors while UP will face their Katipunan rival Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles.