UP ends first round with lopsided losses vs Adamson

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons wrapped up the first round of elimination in the UAAP Season 85 collegiate volleyball tournaments with a pair of lopsided losses against the Adamson University Soaring Falcons on Wednesday, Mar. 22, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

‘Lack of mental edge’

Looking to escape their winless situation, the UP Men’s Volleyball Team (MVT) kicked off their final game in high spirits only to be diminished by fellow win-hungry Adamson Soaring Falcons in straight sets, 25-16, 25-19, 25-22.

The Falcons steadily broke down the confidence of the Maroons by establishing a comfortable two-set lead. State U never quite looked like themselves until the frantic third set.

“Hindi pa rin kami ganun ka consistent. Hindi na specific skills eh, siguro yung sa mindset nila, medyo on-off palagi,” said UP MVT head coach Rald Ricafort, admitting that developing a mental edge among the players is an ongoing objective.

“Hindi siya skills-based eh, nandoon yung mindset ng mga players kapag hindi buo yung loob, pwedeng kunin sa kanila yung set. Ito yung naging lesson sa amin talaga.”

Unforced errors from the Diliman side helped the Falcons erect an early eight-point lead in the opening canto, 18-10.

However, an instant impact courtesy of bench player Ranz Cajolo added by a pair of attack errors from Adamson helped UP inch closer, 15-22.

Team skipper Louis Gamban launched a down-the-line hit to keep the momentum for his squad at 16-22 until Ruskin Ijiran sent a quick push wide, giving NU the first set, 25-16.

Angelo Lagando went aggressive in the second frame, firing multiple clean hits to keep the maroon shirts in striking distance.

But UP’s good offensive build-up ultimately fell short in covering their vulnerable defensive stretches, which opened a window for Adamson to unload clean attacks of their own and put the set away, 25-19.

Unlike the first two frames where they were off to a cold start, the Maroons took control early in the third set, leading by as much as three before Gamban launched an off-the-block kill to gift the Maroons its biggest lead yet, 18-14.   

Despite trailing most of the third set, Evander Novillo eventually came through to lift Adamson from down 17-20 to tie the set at 20-all.

UP’s hectic charge to claim a set rested dead on its tracks after a crucial attack error by Gamban at 22-23.

The Soaring Falcons seized the upper hand from then on as Novillo sealed the one-hour, 23-minute match with back-to-back service aces, 25-22.

No Maroon reached double-digits as Lagando and Gamban were held to nine and eight points respectively.

Meanwhile, Novillo tallied 11 points on seven attacks, two blocks and two aces for Adamson, which improved to 1-6.

Although their current position in the standings is less than favorable, Coach Ricafort believes not all hope is lost for the team.     

“Kung okay pa rin kami mentally, malaki pa rin naman yung chance. Yung training, training pa rin naman kami, trabaho pa rin naman kami, dun talaga sa mindset nila,” he said.

The UP MVT will try to break their losing spell on Wednesday, Mar. 25, as they clash against the FEU Tamaraws at the Fil-Oil EcoOil Centre.

Communication breakdowns

On the other hand, the UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) played with fire to gain ground, but the Adamson Lady Falcons proved resilient with a 25-18, 25-17, 25-23 triumph.

The Lady Maroons were on the road to being swept when they found a renewed sense of urgency to lead early in the third set before communication breakdowns handed the game to Adamson.

“Nagkakaroon kami ng mga lapses pagdating sa communication. Nag-struggle kami especially sa third set na medyo crucial na,” said UP WVT head coach Shaq Delos Santos, noting how the game came down to team communication. 

“Kasi kapag naman sa training kami, sobrang okay yung mga bata. Kailangan madala namin siya, magawa namin sa loob ng court especially kapag mismong game na kasi yun yung pinakaimportante.”

The Lady Maroons had a chance to take the lead in the opening frame, but a miscommunication between Abi Goc and Marianne Sotomil set the tone for the Lady Falcons to move forward.

Adamson surprisingly then drew up big blocks to build a 6-0 run, 13-5, which the State U eventually countered to give the navy blue-and-white a taste of their own medicine.

Dannica Celis launched a down-the-line kill to shut off Adamson’s scoring rampage, 6-13.

A service ace by Steph Bustrillo at 15-23 seemed to have flipped the switch for UP, but their unforced errors once again turned out costly, giving away the set to Adamson, 25-18.

The Diliman squad relied on the steady shoulders of Alyssa Bertolano who provided quality attacks early in the second canto.

UP’s Alyssa Bertolano goes for an off-the-block kill. 
Photo by UAAP Season 85 Media Bureau

However, one steady spiker is not enough against the Adamson team which fired on all cylinders. Kate Santiago eventually finished the second set for Adamson with a crosscourt kill, 25-17.

The third set proved fierce as the Lady Maroons refused to go away. Niña Ytang stamped her class on both the attacking and serving end to give UP a three-point advantage, 13-10.

The Lady Falcons clawed their way back to tie the ballgame at 14-all before another miscommunication by UP put Adamson back in the lead.

State U hung by a thread at 24-22 after a crucial setting error, but Bustrillo quickly atoned for the miscue with a down-the-line kill to keep UP in the game, 24-23.

That was the end for the Lady Maroons as Santiago went off the block to secure the sweep for Adamson, 25-23.

Bertolano paced the loss, tallying 12 points for the Maroons who now fall to seventh place with a 1-6 record.

Bustrillo and Goc contributed 8 points apiece, with the latter also getting six digs and five excellent receptions.  

Meanwhile, Santiago led Adamson with 16 points on 12 attacks, three blocks and a service ace.

The loss may have put the Diliman squad in a precarious situation, but Coach Delos Santos is taking things in stride, saying the team is learning through the process.

“We’ll trust the process kasi marami pa kaming kailangan i-improve at i-adjust. Kaya absorb lang at kailangan dapat mapag-isipan pa namin kung ano ang mga dapat na gawin sa susunod na games this second round,” he said.

The UP WVT will aim for a spark win on Saturday, March 25, as they go head-to-head against the FEU Tamaraws at the Philsports Arena.