Text by Luisa Morales
Photo by Mark Kevin Reginio
Diliman fans are holding their breaths for the Final Four.
The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons failed to cement their spot in the Final Four in their first attempt, as they bowed down to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses in straight sets, 20-25, 21-25, 16-25, at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.
The game started out tight, with both teams going at it. Neither team was giving up any ground, and the ecstatic crowd was at the edge of their seats with every rally.
It was neck and neck until the second technical timeout with UST up only by a point, 16-15, but the España squad pulled away late in the set with blocks and costly errors from the Lady Maroons to draw first blood, 25-20.
Things looked brighter for State U in the second set. Starting out strong, the Diliman team held a five-point cushion in the middle of the set, 11-6.
However, a barrage of attacks from the Tigresses proved too much for the Lady Maroons. UST dominated the rest of the set to take a 2-0 lead against UP, 25-21.
By the third set, the Maroon squad looked out of steam. Riding on the momentum of their 2-0 lead, UST pounded State U leading at one point by 10.
Despite a mini-run from State U courtesy of veteran Nicole Tiamzon, UST’s lead proved too big to overcome.
The Tigresses eventually won the match, 25-16.
Sophomore Tots Carlos led State U with eight points while Isa Molde and Tiamzon contributed seven markers each.
Ennajie Laure powered UST with 15 points, while skipper Cherry Ann Rondina followed closely behind with 14.
“They [UST] really played well, and it was, again, our errors that killed us,” UP Captain Ayel Estrañero said.
State U ended the match with 26 errors, five more than UST’s 21.
The Lady Maroons are set for a do-or-die match for a Final Four spot against Far Eastern University (FEU) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“There is no time to be down after this game. Kailangan namin bumawi, kailangan gandahan ang training to gain some confidence going into Wednesday’s game,” the captain said.