UP strengthens Final Four bid, dominates NU

by Luisa Morales

The Lady Maroons are back with a vengeance.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons overpowered the  National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs as they win in four sets, 25-14, 25-27, 25-21, 25-12, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Sunday.

The Diliman volleybelles dominated every aspect of the match, avenging their first round loss to Jaja Santiago and the Lady Bulldogs.

UP veteran Nicole Tiamzon did not see action the whole match, with reserve Aiesha Laine Gannaban starting in all four sets.

It was a great day for UP fans. The Lady Maroons were on fire from the get-go, taking advantage of the poor reception of their opponents.

Loaded serves and powerful spikes from the Diliman squad allowed them to cruise through the first set, 25-14.

But the Bulldogs weren’t afraid to bite back. The second set was tighter with both squads going back-and-forth until the end.

NU had a set point 24-23 but the Lady Maroons managed to extend the set. Despite UP getting a set point of their own, NU was able to win the set 27-25; tying the game at one set a piece.

By the third set, State U looked poised to dominate again. Great floor defense and attacking from the Maroons looked too much for NU to handle.

It was all UP as they led the set 17-5, but NU did not go down without a fight. With a stunning 15-3 run, they caught up with UP at 20-all.

The UP fans were at the edge of their seats as the set was suddenly within NU’s reach.

Key plays from State U, however, powered the Diliman-based squad to take a 2-1 lead, 25-21.

Unfazed by the fierce comeback of their opponents, UP came into the fourth set looking to finish strong.

NU looked tired as State U kept pounding the Lady Bulldogs with loaded serves, while UP veteran Kathy Bersola answered everything Santiago had to offer.

The Lady Maroons ended the match on a high note, dominating NU all throughout the set, 25-12.

UP finished the match with five Lady Maroons in double figures – Bersola, Isa Molde and Tots Carlos had 14 points apiece, while Gannaban and Ali Buitre chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Captain Jaja Santiago led NU with 18 points, followed by Aiko Urdas with 12 markers.

With the crucial win, the Lady Maroons tie the Lady Bulldogs at fourth place with a 7-5 win-loss card, and more importantly, keep their Final Four hopes alive.

UP is set to face the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses, currently at solo third, on April 2, at the Mall Of Asia Arena.

ADMU sends UP to fourth-straight loss in one-sided Battle of Katipunan

By John Remil Isaga and Luisa Morales

Gone are the days when the UP Fighting Maroons were the top contenders for the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Championship.

After losing star libero Princess Gaiser to a career-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear, the dispirited Maroons were handed their fourth straight loss in a dominating sweep (15-25, 14-25, 15-25) by the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the opening bout of the second round at the Araneta Coliseum, Sunday.

The Diliman-based fan favorites never got their rhythm going as they were handily dismantled by their neighboring sisters.

The Lady Eagles were dominant in almost every aspect of the match, completely overpowering the Maroons in spikes, 44-24. Errors plagued the Diliman squad with ADMU getting 21 free points courtesy of State U.

It was not a good day for the UP offense either, with none of the Maroons getting double digit points.

In their lowest output in scoring of the season, Isa Molde led State U with only eight points. Jia Maraguinot shined the brightest of the Katipunan squad with 17.

With this loss, UP falls to sixth place after once going undefeated at 4-0. They will try to bounce back against the UE Lady Warriors on Wednesday, March 15 at the Fil Oil Flying V Arena, San Juan. #

Ateneo sweeps Diliman volley squads, Lady Maroons suffer first defeat

By Mark Kevin Reginio

It’s a sorry Sunday for the UP faithfuls.

The University of the Philippines (UP) volleyball teams suffered straight set losses against its Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University in the first round of UAAP Season 79 volleyball wars, Sunday at the Filoil V Flying Arena.

While the UP community had high hopes for the women’s team’s fifth straight win, the Lady Eagles had other plans in mind as they demolished the Lady Maroons, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21.

The veterans of the Diliman-based squad, Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola, were silenced by the defenders of Ateneo which led to their low production of four and three points respectively.

The Lady Maroons showed signs of life late in the third set when they overcome the eight big markers built by Ateneo to get closer at 23-20, yet the effort of Tots Carlos to delay the Lady Eagles’ victory was quickly answered by a powerful crosscourt spike delivered by Jho Mariguinot who scored 12 points.

Isa Molde and Carlos’ combined 24 points came short against the three double digit scorers of Ateneo- Maraguinot, Bea De Leon, and Mich Morente who scored a total of 32 points.

Ateneo’s assistant coach Sherwin Meneses said they really prepared for this game and focused on their service receives to ease their wing spikers.

“Simula ng dumating si Coach Thai [Bundit], nag-prepare na yung team para sa UP. [Nag]-service receive talaga kami ng isang linggo [at] maganda ‘yung receive kanina so lumuwag yung blockers sa kanila (Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino),” he said.

The attempt of the Lady Maroons to have a perfect record was spoiled by the Katipunan-based squad. UP is currently third in the standings with a 4-1 win-loss card while Ateneo surged to the top spot tied with their archrival De La Salle University at 5-1.

Meanwhile, the momentum from the 5-set win of the UP’s men’s team against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) was not carried over in their game against the defending champions, as they go out in straight sets against the Blue Eagles, 25-18, 26-24, 25-16.

The Fighting Maroons almost stole the second set, but they were plagued by two consecutive errors in service and attack to gift the set to Ateneo, 26-24.

Those errors haunted them in the third set as they were buried early, 14-5. UP’s Wendel Miguel and Mark Millete tried to rally the team and close the gap but came lacing by 7 points, 23-16.

UP’s team captain Miguel said their lapses in the second set were carried over in the third as they failed to recover from those.

“Parang doon sa second set ang nangyari parang ang mga inexecute namin parang hindi pinag-isipan kasi na-pressure [kami]…[p]arang hindi na naka-recover agad,” he said.

He also explained the team’s game plan was to give more sets to Millete, who led their scoring board with 15 points, 13 coming from attacks.

“Si Millete lang ang halos aatake ng lahat. Yun talaga yung inaral namin ng buong week, said Miguel, who had 11 excellent receptions.

“Alam naman na kami pinakamatanda ni Alfred so kami yung babasahin [kaya] [m]as nag-focus ako sa receive and depensa,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ateneo’s leading scorer Antony Koyfman, who registered 16 points,12 attacks and three blocks, foiled UP’s run in the final set to take home the game.

The Blue Eagles stay undefeated at 6-0 while the Fighting Maroons slid down to fourth tied with Far Eastern University (FEU) and UST.

UP’s men’s and women’s teams will next face the FEU volleyball squads on March 1 at the Filoil Flying V Arena, with the men’s team up first at 8 a.m., while the Lady Maroons hit the court at 2 p.m.