UP MVT exits Final Four race, WVT stumbles yet again to La Salle

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons absorbed pivotal losses at the hands of Final Four contenders De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers last Sunday, April 16, at the Philsports Arena. 

The men’s team officially bowed out of semifinals contention, while the women’s squad remained in the losing column with its tenth-straight defeat. 

Momentum broken

The UP Men’s Volleyball Team (MVT) failed to build momentum from their first win of the season last April 16, after dropping their match against the De La Salle Green Spikers in straight sets, 21-25, 18-25, 18-25.

Fresh off an emphatic victory, UP took the helm early in the first set with multiple attacks by Renz Cajolo for a three-point lead, 14-11, but an aggressive attack by La Salle playmaker Paul Serrano knotted the game at 15-all.

It was a nip-and-tuck affair as both teams refused to give up the lead, but the green-and-white sparked a late 4-0 run to finish at 25-18.

Renz Cajolo challenges La Salle’s defender. Photo by UAAP Season 85 Media Bureau

JV Malabanan came hot for the Fighting Maroons early in the second canto, but the aggressive net defense by the Green Spikers kept most of UP’s offense in check, 14-9. 

UP tried to stage a comeback, 15-16, but a single block by Vince Maglinao riddled State U to eventually give La Salle the set win, 25-18.

Frantic errors plagued UP in the last frame as La Salle gave the squad a run for their money with back-to-back crosscourt attacks to extend the lead by seven, 21-13. 

The match ended with a attack error from Cajolo, 25-18, as UP ultimately missed the semifinals for a third straight full-calendar season. 

Cajolo and Malabanan registered 12 and eight points respectively for UP,  while Maglinao earned Player of the Game honors with 17 points for DLSU.

Losing skid continues

With their postseason hopes already gone, the UP Women’s Volleyball Team (WVT) hoped to play spoiler but instead fell hard to top-seeded DLSU Lady Spikers in straight sets, 15-25, 16-25, 16-25. 

La Salle took the driver’s seat early in the match with a six-point lead, 10-4, but quick middle plays from Niña Ytang and a service ace from Stephanie Bustrillo helped UP catch up and trim the lead.

But the Lady Spikers were quick to recover and wrapped the first set, 25-15. 

UP continued to put up a good fight in the second set, but reception and service errors enabled La Salle a comfortable cushion, leading by as much as nine points at the tail-end, 25-16.

Improved blocking and loaded service from the maroon-and-white stunted the Lady Spikers early in the third set to tie things at 7, but it was their floor defense that proved a bane to UP as La Salle rookie Angel Canino pounded a monstrous hit and tallied back-to-back service aces to put them ahead at 11-8.

Bench spark plug Abi Goc tried to pull off some late-game heroics with an impact point of her own, but a setting error by Mai Sotomil gave La Salle match point before Baby Jyne Soreño closed the game with a cross-court hit.

Bustrillo was the lone bright spot for UP with 10 points. Ytang and Goc added nine and five markers respectively. Meanwhile, Canino led the Lady Spikers with 17 points. 

The men’s and women’s teams will go up against Adamson University on Saturday, Apr. 22 at the Mall of Asia Arena.