by Mark Kevin Reginio
Four months before the start of their University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) campaign, the University of the Philippines Women’s Volleyball Team had already geared up with their preparations this early.
The Lady Maroons closed out their stint in the 12th season of the Shakey’s V-League collegiate conference on a high note as they swept De La Salle University-Dasmarinas (DLSU-D) Lady Patriots, 25-19, 25-10, 25-18, at the San Juan Arena, Sunday.
The rookie-laden Diliman-based squad had a 2-5 win-loss record after the quarter finals but was not enough to propel them into a semi-final berth.
Still, head coach Jerry Yee was happy with how the girls performed in the entire season.
“Ayan, last game na natin buti nakuha natin. May improvements naman. Okay na tayo, satisfied naman (Fortunately, we won our last game. There are improvements within the team. We’re okay with it and I’m satisfied with the result),” he said.
Yee expressed contentment in the performance of his rookie-recruits Justine Dorog, Isa Molde, Diana Carlos, Maristella Layug and Sheena Chopitea.
“They (rookies) are doing good,” he said. “They are not playing like rookies so it’s a good sign for us.”
Hope Christian High School standouts Molde and Dorog led the team with 19 and 14 points, respectively.
Cherry Rose Nunag, meanwhile, led the Lady Patriots with eight points.
Yee opted to start with Chopitea rather than Layug and usual starter Chester Ong in this game.
“Exposure lang for [her],” he said. “We know what Maris can do, we know what Chester can do. So, we wanted to see what Chopitea can do.”
UP started slow in the third set entering the first technical timeout, 8-4, but managed to find their groove after a Dorog ace equalizing the game at 11.
The Lady patriots threatened for a comeback as Iumi Yongco and Eunice Castillo led the charge but Dorog scored six consecutive points, highlighted by four aces to completely bury the Lady Patriot’s hopes, 25-18
The Lady Maroons led by Carlos continued their barrage of attacks overpowering the Lady Patriots to move within striking distance and take take a two to none advantage.
Both teams started slow in the first set not until the second technical timeout where UP booted a 7-4 run to finish the set, 25-19.
UP had a 2-3 card after the elimination round, finishing fourth in a group of six teams. They defeated the University of Batangas and Polytechnic University of the Philippines, which were both eliminated.
UP then carried the three losses in the quarterfinals. They won against College of St. Benilde and DLSU-D but fell short against Ateneo De Manila University and University of Sto. Tomas.
“Initially, napanghihinaan tayo ng loob. Last few games kahit papaano lumalaban tayo kahit nalalamangan tayo. So, okay na rin naman tayo roon (Initially, we easily lose confidence in the early part of the season. But I noticed in our last few games that we fought despite trailing. I’m okay with that),” the coach said.
Yee believes that the Lady Maroons still have a lot of work to do to better prepare the young team for the UAAP wars.
“Marami pa tayong iwo-workout. Yung mga skills set natin hindi pa naman kumpleto. Blocking, receive, everything pati yung pattern ng defense and offense. So marami pa kaming gagawin (We still have many areas to work on. Our skills set is not that impressive. Also, we’ll improve more on our blocking and receiving and how we will pattern our defensive and offensive plays. We still have a lot more to do.),” Yee said.
The former Hope Christian High School mentor added, “Hopefully, hindi na tayo gulat sa venue (we’ll get used to the venue), or sa lights or sa camera. Hopefully, makapaglaro tayo ng mabuti at makapagbigay ng magandang laban (we can play better and give our opponents a good fight)”
Yee also said star hitter Nicole Tiamzon, who suffered from an injury, is now training with the team. Meanwhile, Kathy Bersola is just waiting for her clearance to be released in a couple of weeks so she will be able to join the Lady Maroons in their practice sessions.