by John Remil Isaga
For the third straight year, the UP Lady Maroons nabbed the UAAP Women’s Badminton title in dominating fashion, besting the Ateneo Lady Eagles three matches to one.
First Singles Match: Bea Bernardo vs Bianca Carlos
Eerily similar to how Game 2 began, the Lady Eagles team captain Bianca Carlos swept UP’s Bea Bernardo, 16-21, 19-21, in the first singles match to take a 1-0 lead.
Although Bernardo started out of warmups red-hot by mounting an 8-1 lead, Ateneo’s tested veteran brushed it off and took care of business. Second Singles Match: Gel Castilo vs Sam Ramos Determined to mount back the pressure on the challengers, the Lady Maroons’ Gel Castilo entered the second singles match with a 10-6 introductory attack to Ateneo’s Sam Ramos. Although Ramos rallied to bring the set deficit down to three, 13-10, Castilo hammered multiple kills and forced errors to leave Ramos in the dust, 21-14.
However, the determination to get over the title drought propelled Ramos to smash home textbook kills of her own despite Castilo starting the second set on an interval-forcing 11-5 run. This enabled the Ateneo talent to close the gap once again at 18-16 via a series of kill trading, much to the delight of the boisterous, jampacked crowd.
Ramos even forced a 21-20 set point before Castilo secured the match sweep at 24-22 for a 1-1 game tie. Relieved, she laid down on the court and fist-pumped for a moment.
First Doubles Match: Mav Alcala & Jessie Francisco vs Trixie Malibiran & Sam Ramos
The action kicked up to an even higher gear as UP team captain Mav Alcala and Jessie Francisco opened up the first doubles match against Ramos and Trixie Malibiran.
Much like the match that preceded it, UP mounted a commanding 7-3 lead before the Eagle duo locked in and rallied back. With UP clinging to a 12-10 lead, Alcala and Francisco revved up the attacks and once again left their Katipunan sisters dazed and down one set, 21-15.
They threw in the same furious attacks in the following set to sweep Ateneo, 21-17 and grab the 2-1 lead.
Second Doubles Match: Gel Castilo & Christine Inlayo vs Bianca Carlos & Geva de Vera
Sensing another possible Finals loss, the new Ateneo duo of Carlos and Geva de Vera battled toe-to-toe with UP’s Castilo and Christine Inlayo in the second doubles match.
Alternating between real and feint smashes, Ateneo outsmarted UP and took the first set, 23-21. Showing no signs of weariness, the Lady Maroon duo instead showed a more intense drive – screaming before and after kills, one after another.
In a flash, UP has taken the set, 21-12. Staying true to their champion mentality, Castilo and Inlayo tore into the hapless Lady Eagles with reckless abandon.
Mounting an unrelenting barrage of kills, the Lady Maroons closed out Ateneo with a title-clinching 21-12 set, which was immediately followed by defeaning screams from the Maroon faithful.
Banners were waved and tears fell to thundering drumbeats as the UP Lady Maroons once again reached the top of the Women’s Badminton division.