The University of The Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons’ efforts were not enough to strengthen their Final Four after suffering a hard-fought four-set loss, 21-25, 25-19, 23-25, 21-25, against the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws earlier, April 6, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With Isa Molde still not fully recovered from her injury, the team struggled with their reception as the Tamaraws served up 16 aces to seal their revenge.
Captain Tots Carlos led UP with 19 attacks and two aces with the help of Justine Dorog who tallied 15 points, while Heather Guino-o led the Tams to the win with 22 points.
It was a slow start for both teams as they exchanged aces and errors. It was until UP sparked a 7-4 run courtesy of attacks and blocks that tied the set at 12-all. However, FEU charged back to create a 14-22 deficit.
Marian Buitre and Dorog led the 6-2 run to cut the lead to four, but the Lady Tams showed resilience closing the first set with a block, 21-25.
State U started strong in the second set with Carlos leading the team’s offense. With the help of Dorog and Buitre, they established a 11-5 lead, but FEU maximized UP’s string of errors to cut within three, 13-10.
UP maintained their composure to gather points as the Lady Tams continued to rally behind their hard services courtesy of Guino-o, but it was not enough as Dorog closed the set with back to back drop shots, 25-19.
UP carried their momentum to the next set and aggressively maintained their solid blocking and strong offense led by Marist Layug, Lorie Bernardo, and Carlos.
State U maintained a four-point lead until FEU served up a series of aces and attacks led by Jerrili Malabanan and eventually overtook UP, 18-19.
Roselyn Rosier replaced Buitre for defensive purposes, but the Morayta squad capitalized their middle attacks and brought them to set point, 20-24.
The Maroons’ mini-run was stopped by a quick hit from FEU that eventually iced the set, 23-25.
It was a see-saw do-or-die fourth set for the Maroons as they started with a scrappy floor defense, but a stronger net defense.
Hard services by Guino-o and strong spikes by Malabanan made them attain a three-point lead mid-game, but the net defense of the Maroons heightened as Jessma Ramos entered the game.
Deadlocked at 19, FEU pulled away with two consecutive middle attacks, followed by two consecutive UP errors.
Carlos gave a string of points to cut the lead, 21-23.
After FEU was brought to match point, Carlos snatched another point, but Guino-o immediately closed the match with an attack, 22-25.
“It is just one of those days that didn’t go as planned,” expressed Head Coach Godfrey Okumu, with the second year mentor also explaining how their passing system was in disarray due to Molde’s absence.
The Fighting Lady Maroons, who now sits at 6-5 record will attempt to bounce back in another crucial match against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses on April 10, Wednesday, at the Filoil Flying V Centre. TNP
Photo by Luisa Morales