The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons were bested by the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses, 25-21, 22-25, 16-25, 20-25, today, February 24, at the Filoil Arena in San Juan.

Marist Layug and Isa Molde opened the first set with one attack each, but it was smart plays from Aiesha Gannaban and Captain Tots Carlos that led the Diliman-based squad to an early lead of 8-5.

Taking advantage of UST’s defense inconsistencies, UP rattled the Golden Tigresses and earned a score of 16-12 that led to the second technical timeout.

UST’s reception errors and UP’s improved blocking spelled a 25-21 first set win for the latter.

Gannaban drew first blood in the second set, but UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year Milena Alessandrini and UST Super Rookie Eya Laure slowed down the Maroons’ offense to keep UP at bay, 8-7.

It was a seesaw battle between both teams that exchanged service and reception errors, but it was UP’s overcooked attacks that cost them their two-point lead.

Alessandrini and Tomasian Skipper Sisi Rondina’s timely wipes and unanswered chance balls caused UP to lose the set, 22-25.

Alessandrini drove the offense in the third frame, adding to UST’s run with Laure and Rondina. UP tried to counter with varied attacks from Justine Dorog, Molde, and Carlos, but UST still doubled on them, 8-16.  

A sea of Maroon rallied support for the Iska athletes, allowing them to make a run that saw the score at 15-22. But UST eventually spiked their way into the fourth set, 16-25.

Entering the last canto with a block and a Carlos ace, UP showed a promising start.

The Maroons benefited from UST’s freebies at 6-8, but lacked good reception and attacks needed to catch up to the Golden Tigresses that were up by six, 10-16.

Kill after kill, UST denied UP a chance to score and eventually won the match, 20-25.

Leading State U was Tots Carlos and Isa Molde with 20 and 13 points respectively.

Espana-based athletes Milena Alessandrini and Eya Laure contributed the most markers with 22 and 18 individually.

Lady Maroons Head Coach Godfrey Okumu said that Co-Captain Ayel Estrañero’s absence, due to food poisoning, created a gap in guidance and this affected today’s performance.

“I think all my players are the same. The only thing that we missed was our leadership. At some point, we need a voice in there to push other young players.”, said Okumu.

Hoping to bounce back, the Lady Maroons will face the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers on March 2 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. TNP

Photo by Kezhia Maglasang

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