Photo by Keith Magcaling

Text by Luisa Morales

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons suffer their first defeat of the season, falling in straight sets against defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers, 21-25, 22-25, 24-26, yesterday at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Reminiscent of UP’s first round win against the Lady Spikers last season, a sea of Maroon filled the seats in San Juan, a hopeful Diliman crowd pinning for another upset against the squad in green and white.

And contrary to what the sweep may suggest, it was a rather close and gritty game.

It was a back-and-forth affair at the start the match. Both teams made runs one after another to keep the opening set close.

A total of nine deadlocks kept UP at pace with the defending champions until late in the first when they were tied, 21-all.

But four straight points from Lady Spiker Tine Tiamzon gave the set to the Taft squad, 25-21.

DLSU started the second set strong with a 4-1 start, but the Lady Maroons were quick to recover and take the lead early in the second, 9-6

However, costly errors from the Diliman squad and a barrage of attacks and aces enabled the Lady Spikers to pull away, threatening to take the set, 24-19.

Just when the Lady Spikers looked poised to run away with the set, a late UP run had the Lady Maroons breathing down their necks, 22-24. But an attack from setter Michelle Cobb gave DLSU the 2-0 lead, 25-22.

Unfazed by their disadvantage, the Diliman squad started the third strong. Attacks from all directions of the Maroon offense gave DLSU a run for their money, with UP leading the defending champs 19-13.

It looked like the Lady Maroons were en route to make a comeback, but the Taft squad wasn’t about to let their lead go to waste.

With a rally of their own, DLSU crawled back into the set to inch closer to UP at 21-23.

The Lady Maroons were the first to come at set point, 24-21 and looked to extend the match to another set.

But an attack from DLSU skipper Majoy Baron, a costly error from Tots Carlos and three consecutive aces from Cobb eventually gave the Lady Spikers the match, 26-24.

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s ability to finish sets, whether in the lead or coming from behind.

“We need to be more aggressive… in the way we defended, the way we spike, we have to be aggressive even in the way we serve,” Okumu said after the game.

UP’s loss came with a great discrepancy in service aces, with DLSU overpowering the Diliman squad 16-4 points in the service line.

“At the end of the day… it would’ve gone to any team. But experience played a factor and we’re going to work on that,” he added.

Lady Maroon skipper Carlos paced UP with 19 points, along with Isa Molde and Jessma Ramos with 10 and nine markers, respectively.

Meanwhile, DLSU had four players in double figures, with team captain Kim Dy and Tine Tiamzon leading the way with 13 apiece and Desiree Cheng and Cobb with 10 each.

The loss gives UP a 1-1 slate, and the Diliman squad will hope to bounce back when they face the Adamson Lady Falcons this Valentines’ Day at the FilOil Flying V Arena.


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