Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Luisa Morales

The Fighting Lady Maroons are skidding once again.

The University of the Philippines (UP) suffer another setback, falling against the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigresses in four sets, 25-19, 28-30, 20-25, 16-25 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

Unable to capitalize on a first set win, UP found themselves lost and out of focus in the match.

UP finds groove early

The Lady Maroons were off to a strong start. A balanced offensive effort from State U gave them the lead early, 8-5.

But the Tigresses were quick to recover, catching up with the Diliman squad, 10-all.

Both squads traded blows in the middle of the set, resulting in seven deadlocks and four lead changes.

Eventually, UP was able to pull away in time to draw first blood, 25-19.

Back-and-forth affair

By the second set, it was UST’s turn to start strong.

Relying on high flying attacks from Sisi Rondina, the Tigresses led State U for most of the second.

Determined to swing momentum back on their side, the Maroons made runs of their own to catch up with UST, 15-all.

Attacks and errors from both sides kept the set close, with neither team pulling away. The Tigresses were the first to reach set point at 24-23, but the Lady Maroons had other plans.

Clutch plays extended the set until a final deadlock at 28-all, but a block point from UST and a crucial error from Lady Maroon Isa Molde eventually gave the set to UST, 30-28.

Comeback falls short

It was another stellar start for the Espana squad in the third. Bringing their momentum from a huge second set win, UST dominated early in the match.

Errors plagued State U and gave UST a comfortable cushion, 15-7.

Just when the Lady Maroons looked out of the fight, heroics from Molde and Ayel Estranero slowly chipped away at the Tigress lead to cut it down to one, 14-15.

Despite the comeback, UST was able to capitalize once again on UP’s errors and clinched the set, 25-20.

Down and out

Frustration started to kick in for State U come the fourth set, another hot start for the Espana team had the Lady Maroons scrambling to find any offense.

Despite attempts to try and cut into the lead, UP just couldn’t get back on their feet. Losing steam, UST eventually overpowered them to take the set and match, 25-16.

Wasted chances

UP head Coach Godfrey Okumu lamented his team’s performance in the game, attributing their loss from a lack of concentration and trying to do too much.

“They lost their cool… they were trying to do two or three things at a time. We didn’t have peace of mind” Okumu said after the game.

The Kenyan coach also expressed frustration on wasted chances in the match.

“We started well, the two sets were perfect… we had so many chances to win that second set but we just let it go,” he said.

UP skipper Tots Carlos led the Maroons in offense with 24 markers, while Rondina paced the Tigresses with 25.

Carlos, meanwhile, rued the issue of morale among the team after the match. “Morale talaga eh, yung attitude ng players… biglang hindi nalang kami gumalaw, hindi na kami lumaban,” she said.

The loss puts UP at a 3-7 slate and with their final four hopes hanging by a thread, State U will hope to slow down and get back on the win column when the face higher-seed Far Eastern University on Saturday, March 24.


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