by John Edison Ubaldo
The University of the Philippines Men’s and Women’s volleyball teams opened Season 76 through close games against identical foes but ended up in a win and a loss Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The Men’s Team finished a see-saw battle in four sets notching their first win against University of Santo Tomas, 25-23, 22-25, 25-17, 25-23 earlier in the day.
UST and UP split the first two sets after breaking away by just two and three points to drub a set each.
The Maroons then stepped on the gas in the third canto, 25-17, and sustained momentum in the fourth set to escape with 25-23 game-notching set win.
Evan Raymundo lead the way for the Fighting Maroons after dropping 17 points, including eight blocks, while Wendel Miguel supplemented with 16 points on 11 attacks and three service aces.
The Lady Maroons meanwhile dropped a close opening game against the University of Santo Tomas, 25-15, 22-25, 25-21, 25-22.
UST leaned on their potent offense while UP relied on their sturdy frontal defense. Jem Gutierrez exploded with 20 points for the Tigresses, while Katherine Bersola imposed her presence dropping 13 points, including four blocks, for the Maroons.
UST drew first blood after UP lost steam midway in the opening set, turning a slim 12-10 edge into a runaway 25-15 set win.
But the Katipunan-based squad imposed their character in the second set as they erased a four point deficit and eked out a 25-22 set win pouncing on miscues and mental lapses of their counterparts. The Tigresses were forced to 31 errors against UP’s 21.
UST retaliated in the third frame leading by as much as eight, 16-8, before shooting down crucial points down the stretch to nab another set.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Maroons surged ahead early in the fourth as Bersola scored on dropshots and blocks to post a 10-7 lead.
But the España-based squad displayed composure as they whittled down the deficit on skipper Ma. Loren Lantin’s aces to pull ahead, 18-13.
The Maroons slowly inched closer with Hannah Mangulabnan converting two attacks and threatened at 22-23. But a crucial lapse on UP’s defensive line enabled UST to notch the final two points to seal the match.
The Men’s team will next face Ateneo De Manila University on Sunday, 8:30 am at the FilOil Flying V Arena followed by the Women’s encounter versus Adamson University later at 2 pm.