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.