The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Lady Maroons completed a season sweep against defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers in straight sets, 25-16, 26-24, 25-19, in the second round of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament today, March 24, at the Ynares Sports Center.
After pulling another upset over the Lady Spikers, the Fighting Maroons now force a four-way tie with DLSU, UST, and FEU for the second spot.
The stellar performance of the dynamic duo of Tots Carlos, who dispatched an all-around performance with 13 attacks, eight excellent digs, and five excellent receptions, and Isa Molde, who tallied 11 points, sealed the win for the Fighting Maroons.
Errors from both teams opened the first set before UP gained momentum after Lorie Bernardo fired back-to-back aces, 8-4. The Lady Maroons continued to dominate and doubled on the Lady Spikers, 14-7, after capitalizing on their errors.
An ace by Molde and the drop by Dorog helped them secure a six point lead, 19-13, before the green-and-white committed consecutive errors to put the Diliman squad on top after the first set, 25-16.
UP trailed by as much as five points come second set, 10-15, after DLSU left the Diliman squad’s defense guessing with their offense.
The momentum shifted to the Maroons after pulling an 8-4 run to cut the deficit to only two points, 17-19, but back-to-back errors from Desiree Cheng tied the game at 19.
Both squad exchanged fiery kills and costly errors before Jessma Ramos sealed the extended set with a block in UP’s favor, 26-24, with the Taft-based squad commiting 14 unforced errors in the second set alone.
Down two sets to none, DLSU looked to extend the match after leading State U, 2-6, in the third frame, but the latter made an 8-1 run to overcome the deficit and snatch the lead, 10-7.
Both teams exchanged errors once more, but UP pulled away after creating a 9-3 run to hand DLSU another upset with Molde closing the match with a clean hit, 25-19.
Despite a straight-set sweep over the 4-peat seeking La Salle, Coach Okumu still believes the best is yet to come for the Lady Maroons. “Is this the peak of UP? No. We still can play better, it’s just a matter of time.”
Bernardo, who started for UP today, punished the gritty floor defense and reception of DLSU after sending loaded services and tallying two aces.
“Sobrang nakakataas ng kumpyansa kasi sa service pa lang, nakakatulong na ako. What more sa offense and defense,” she said.
Asked what to expect from UP in their next matches, Lorie shared “Mas matapang pa ang UP and mayroon kaming bagong ipapakita.”
The Lady Maroons will look to extend their winning streak and bounce back from their first round loss as they face the top-seeded Ateneo De Manila (ADMU) Lady Eagles this Saturday, March 30, at the MOA Arena. TNP
Photo by Clarizzah Tualla