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.
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.