Photo by Summer Padilla

Text by Nica Rhiana Hanopol

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons secured their first win of the season under new head coach Godfrey Okumu, after surviving a five-set match against the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors, 25-19, 25-13, 21-25, 16-25, 15-8 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.

The Lady Maroons were off to a good start in the first set, with Isa Molde starting the scoring spree with five spikes and two block hits.

But it was comeback open spiker Justine Dorog who finished the set, 25-19, with two back-to-back aces.

Both teams traded errors in the second set, but the UP squad managed a 12-0 run towards the  end of the set, 24-13. Team Captain Tots Carlos led the pack with her loaded spike serves and back row attacks.

It was a nip and tuck game coming into the third set as either squads deny the ball to hit the ground, rallying at 11-11, 13-13, 18-18, 19-19, and 21-21.

The Lady Maroons looked poised to take the game in straight sets. Little did they know that it was far from over.

Committing 12 errors in the third set, the Diliman squad failed to play at pace with UE. With the Lady Warriors scoring a crucial run towards the end of the set.

Meanwhile, Dorog managed to stop the bleeding with two back-to-back kills in an attempt to swing the momentum back on the UP side. But UE outside hitter Judith Abil did damage from the service line until the Lady Warriors pulled away with a third set win, 25-21.

The rallies continued in the fourth set, where UP enjoyed lucky hits by Molde, Carlos, and Jessma Ramos, to keep the game close.

But UE veteran Shaya Adorador answered back with off-the-block hits that sustained the UE lead throughout the set. UE eventually pulled away late in the fourth courtesy of a flurry of errors from UP to force a fifth and deciding set.

Determined not to let the match slip away, UP entered the fifth set with a 5-1 lead with setter-spiker Ayel Estranero attacking on the first point. Meanwhile, rookie player Abbie Lim  made her UAAP debut for the UP squad for the first time as a service specialist in the deciding set.

“Let’s pass – that’s what I was telling them,” Coach Okumu said after he saw that his team was down.

Crucial attacks from skipper Tots Carlos and Isa Molde gave the Maroons enough firepower to  close the match, 15-8.

“Syempre nandun din yung medyo kinabahan kami pero sinabi namin na dapat kumalma kami,” said Carlos after the game.  

Despite garnering an overwhelming total of 46 errors in the match, State U’s firepower was enough to overcome the gritty Lady Warriors.

Carlos and Molde amassed 22 and 20 points, respectively, leading the UP Fighting Lady Maroons in attacks. Meanwhile, co-captain Estranero contributed 40 excellent sets.

The Lady Maroons are set to face the defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers on Saturday, February 10. The Lady Maroons hope for a repeat victory over the Taft squad after clinching a straight-set win against the Lady Spikers last season.


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