by Denver del Rosario
The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons edged out the University of Sto. Tomas Lady Tigresses in four sets, 17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-20, today in the UAAP 78 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After a slow start in the opening set, the Lady Maroons eventually found their groove and took the succeeding sets. Isa Molde spearheaded the Diliman side with 23 points, while Marian Buitre added 12.
Meanwhile, team skipper EJ Laure led the España-based squad with 20 points.
The Lady Tigresses started hot in the first set, getting to the first technical timeout (TTO) ahead of UP, 4-8, courtesy of points from graduating player Mela Tunay.
UST continued to pull away as Cherry Rondina finished the first set with an attack, 17-25. The Lady Maroons started slow anew in the second set as the Lady Tigresses dominated early, 3-8, courtesy of attacks from Laure and Tunay.
However, the set proved to be a different story as the Diliman-based squad came back to take the driver seat, 16-15.
UP ultimately took the second set via an attack from Molde, 25-21.
In the third set, UST led as much as seven points, 8-15, courtesy of back-to-back spikes from Laure.
The Lady Tigresses continued to lead, 12-18, via an attack from Tunay and a spiking error from Justine Dorog.
Like the second set, however, the Lady Maroons recomposed themselves as they produced 10 consecutive points, 22-18, courtesy of aces from Jewel Lai and attacks from Molde.
Eventually, the Diliman side stole the third set as they denied a spike from Laure, 25-20.
Finally finding their rhythm, the Lady Maroons pulled away early in the fourth set, leading as much as nine points, 21-12.
Molde ended the game with a down-the-line hit, 25-20, giving UP its 8th win of the season.
Even with the victory, UP coach Jerry Yee is disappointed with his team’s ‘fluctuating’ maturity.
“When they get in the court, they play differently from what we practiced,” Yee said in Filipino. “We really need to be patient with them.”
With the huge possibility of clinching a Final Four slot, Yee said they will hope that fate goes their way.
“We are going to pray that La Salle beats NU so we can avoid a playoff,” Yee said in Filipino.
UP’s final four hopes will depend on the outcome of the NU-DLSU game. A win by DLSU will give UP the fourth spot.