The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons capped the first week of the UAAP Season 85 collegiate volleyball tournaments with a sorry loss in the men’s division and a breakthrough win in the women’s side against the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors at the Mall of Asia Arena last Sunday, Mar. 5.
Falling short yet again
The UP Men’s Volleyball Team (MVT) failed to build momentum from their first-set win as the UE Red Warriors dominated the rest of the match, 19-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22.
The opening salvo featured a neck-and-neck exchange between both teams until the Fighting Maroons pulled away from a 7-all deadlock with six unanswered points.
The Red Warriors tried to catch up as they mounted a 4-0 run, but Louis Gamban nailed a down-the-line hit for a set point before an attack error on the side of UE sealed the deal.
Despite winning the first frame, the maroon shirts curiously petered out in the second set, trailing by as much as 11 points at 21-10 after UP’s Emmanuel Advincula got rejected at the net.
State U tried to bounce back with four consecutive points, but UE shrugged off the effort as Lloyd Josafat closed the set with a quick attack from the middle.
Although UP was able to minimize their errors in the third frame, the red shirts still managed to spark an early 10-4 charge, enough to keep the maroons at bay.
Trailing by two points in the latter part of the fourth set, rookie standout Angelo Lagando fired three strong hits from the left and right wings to snatch the lead, 22-21.
However, UE immediately came to their senses, with Kenneth Culabat hitting crosscourt and Giles Torres producing back-to-back points off a quick attack and rejection for the match.
Lagando paced UP with a game-high 21 points, while team skipper Gamban contributed 13 points and 28 excellent receptions.
Meanwhile, Culabat top-scored for UE with 19 markers.
Now holding a 0-3 record, the UP MVT will aim for a much-needed win against the National University Bulldogs on Mar. 8 at the Philsports Arena.
Conversely, the UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) claimed their first win of the season after downing the UE Lady Warriors in four sets, 22-25, 25-18, 25-19, 25-20.
Interestingly, the Lady Maroons wore pink ribbons during the game in celebration of the National Women’s Month, which began last Wednesday.
“Siyempre, pang-boost [rin] sa’min since we had two losses. Despite the chaos happening around our team, we are fighting for our rights and at the same time, we are fixing within the team,” bench spark plug Abi Goc said in the post-game interview.
Despite leading in its early parts, State U lost the opening salvo as they struggled to keep their errors in check.
Superb blocking proved pivotal to the maroons in the second set as they secured their biggest lead of the match at 20-11. Capitalizing on multiple service and attack errors by UE, they were able to keep the comfortable lead throughout the third set as well.
Both teams went back and forth in the fourth frame as UP committed three service errors early in the fourth set. However, State U regained their composure and mounted several aggressive plays to keep the UE at bay, 22-13.
The Lady Warriors attempted to orchestrate a late-game charge with a 6-1 run to trim the deficit, but a cross-court attack by Alyssa Bertolano ultimately gave UP the win.
Niña Ytang led the Maroons with a career-high 20 points, including an impressive seven blocks, while Stephanie Bustrillo added 16.
Meanwhile, Ja Lana headed the Lady Warriors’ shorthanded efforts with 14 markers.
Despite the breakthrough win, UP WVT Head Coach Shaq Delos Santos still looks to improve the team’s performance, saying the season will only get more competitive as it progresses.
“16 errors, so trabaho pa kami hanggang sa maibaba namin siya nang maibaba. Part naman ‘yun ng process namin sa pagbuo ng team na ito, so accept lang kami, and then trabaho lang nang trabaho,” Delos Santos noted.
The UP WVT aims to ignite a winning streak as they face the NU Lady Bulldogs on March 8 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.