By Mark Kevin Reginio
It’s a sorry Sunday for the UP faithfuls.
The University of the Philippines (UP) volleyball teams suffered straight set losses against its Katipunan neighbors Ateneo De Manila University in the first round of UAAP Season 79 volleyball wars, Sunday at the Filoil V Flying Arena.
While the UP community had high hopes for the women’s team’s fifth straight win, the Lady Eagles had other plans in mind as they demolished the Lady Maroons, 25-14, 25-19, 25-21.
The veterans of the Diliman-based squad, Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola, were silenced by the defenders of Ateneo which led to their low production of four and three points respectively.
The Lady Maroons showed signs of life late in the third set when they overcome the eight big markers built by Ateneo to get closer at 23-20, yet the effort of Tots Carlos to delay the Lady Eagles’ victory was quickly answered by a powerful crosscourt spike delivered by Jho Mariguinot who scored 12 points.
Isa Molde and Carlos’ combined 24 points came short against the three double digit scorers of Ateneo- Maraguinot, Bea De Leon, and Mich Morente who scored a total of 32 points.
Ateneo’s assistant coach Sherwin Meneses said they really prepared for this game and focused on their service receives to ease their wing spikers.
“Simula ng dumating si Coach Thai [Bundit], nag-prepare na yung team para sa UP. [Nag]-service receive talaga kami ng isang linggo [at] maganda ‘yung receive kanina so lumuwag yung blockers sa kanila (Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino),” he said.
The attempt of the Lady Maroons to have a perfect record was spoiled by the Katipunan-based squad. UP is currently third in the standings with a 4-1 win-loss card while Ateneo surged to the top spot tied with their archrival De La Salle University at 5-1.
Meanwhile, the momentum from the 5-set win of the UP’s men’s team against the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) was not carried over in their game against the defending champions, as they go out in straight sets against the Blue Eagles, 25-18, 26-24, 25-16.
The Fighting Maroons almost stole the second set, but they were plagued by two consecutive errors in service and attack to gift the set to Ateneo, 26-24.
Those errors haunted them in the third set as they were buried early, 14-5. UP’s Wendel Miguel and Mark Millete tried to rally the team and close the gap but came lacing by 7 points, 23-16.
UP’s team captain Miguel said their lapses in the second set were carried over in the third as they failed to recover from those.
“Parang doon sa second set ang nangyari parang ang mga inexecute namin parang hindi pinag-isipan kasi na-pressure [kami]…[p]arang hindi na naka-recover agad,” he said.
He also explained the team’s game plan was to give more sets to Millete, who led their scoring board with 15 points, 13 coming from attacks.
“Si Millete lang ang halos aatake ng lahat. Yun talaga yung inaral namin ng buong week, said Miguel, who had 11 excellent receptions.
“Alam naman na kami pinakamatanda ni Alfred so kami yung babasahin [kaya] [m]as nag-focus ako sa receive and depensa,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ateneo’s leading scorer Antony Koyfman, who registered 16 points,12 attacks and three blocks, foiled UP’s run in the final set to take home the game.
The Blue Eagles stay undefeated at 6-0 while the Fighting Maroons slid down to fourth tied with Far Eastern University (FEU) and UST.
UP’s men’s and women’s teams will next face the FEU volleyball squads on March 1 at the Filoil Flying V Arena, with the men’s team up first at 8 a.m., while the Lady Maroons hit the court at 2 p.m.