Photo and text by Luisa Morales
The Fighting Lady Maroons are back to their losing ways.
Haunted by reception woes once again, the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons fell victim to another sweep against the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers, 15-25, 19-25, 19-25, today at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The defending champs bombarded UP with a total of 15 service aces. Combining this with a strong offensive outing, the Lady Spikers were able to shut down State U.
Last season’s finals MVP Desiree Cheng and Kim Kianna Dy led the way for DLSU, scoring 14 points each. The duo also scored nine out of La Salle’s 15 service aces.
UP skipper Tots Carlos and Isa Molde were the only bright spots for the Diliman squad, scoring 16 and 10 markers, respectively.
Slow starting Maroons
UP struggled to find their rhythm from the get-go, as DLSU held a three-point cushion at the first technical timeout, 8-5.
The green and white dominated from then on, loaded serves and attack errors kept on hurting the Lady Maroons. It was a cruise for the defending champions in the opening set as they drew first blood, 25-15.
It was another hot start for the Taft-based squad as UP had themselves down by four early in the set, 4-8. However, the Lady Maroons were able to recover quickly to take the lead, 10-9, courtesy of attacks from Carlos and Ayel Estrañero.
However, the lead was short lived with DLSU making a run of their own to get back on top, 16-14.
UP struggled to play at pace with the Lady Spikers but kept it close towards the end of the set, 18-21. The Lady Spikers then went on a 4-1 run capped off by an ace from Aduke Ogunsanya to take a 2-0 lead, 25-19.
Playing catch up
Determined to extend the match, it was State U’s turn to start strong, as a quick 3-0 start helped the team maintain the lead at the start of the third, 8-5.
Banking on their experience and maturity, the Lady Spikers played unfazed as they pulled away by the second technical timeout, 16-13.
However, the ladies in maroon weren’t going to give up just yet as they were able to trim the La Salle lead to one, 17-18, prompting DLSU coach Ramil de Jesus to call time.
Coach RDJ’s timeout proved effective as the Lady Spikers eventually dumped UP, 25-19 to take the match.
UP head coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s inability to take advantage of their good defense in the match.
“As you can see today, we had a plan but luck was not on our side. We defended well but we couldn’t counterattack. We had many chance balls but we couldn’t use them,” the Kenyan tactician said.
The loss puts UP at a 3-6 slate. With the season in full swing, UP puts itself in a crucial position to fight for a final four spot; however, Okumu remains positive and aims for improvement.
“By playing hard and winning most of our remaining games, that’s the way we could go back,” he added.
The Fighting Lady Maroons hope to duplicate a first round win against the skidding University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses as they face them on Saturday, March 17.