Hapless UP falls to 0-3 after succumbing to Ateneo

The UP Fighting Maroons are still on the hunt for their first UAAP Season 86 Collegiate Volleyball Tournament win after succumbing to the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The men’s volleyball team endured their third consecutive sweep loss, while their women’s squad suffered a reverse sweep, leading State U to absorb a pair of 0-3 records.

Birds of prey

After falling to Adamson University on Feb. 24, the UP Men’s Volleyball Team (UP MVT) fell prey anew to another feathered foe, the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 19-25, 16-25, 23-25.

The last time the Fighting Maroons tasted victory dates back to April 12, when UP survived Ateneo in a five-set thriller that served as the squad’s first and only win of Season 85.

UP’s slow start forced the maroon shirts to a 7-point hole late in the opening set, 15-22, until Ateneo ultimately buried the Fighting Maroons’ chances of a comeback with a Jian Salarzon kill.

The Diliman-based team then dug deep to its steady offense to bring the second set at a 14-all deadlock, but Ateneo’s Aimar Okeke and Salarzon connived for a 9-2 blitz, moving an inch closer to the win.

With their backs against the wall, Angelo Lagando soared high for back-to-back kills to steer UP en route to an early 3-1 cushion in the third set.

Knotted at 13-all, the Blue Eagles then sparked a 6-1 surge to take the lead. 

Despite Lagando’s efforts to tie the game at 21-all, the Blue-and-White proved too strong to hand the Fighting Maroons another sweep loss.

The 6-foot-2 Lagando paced UP’s efforts with 15 points off 14 attacks and one block.

Meanwhile, Salarzon and Okeke tallied 18 and 13 markers, respectively, while playmaker King Mangulabnan tallied 17 excellent sets.

Heartbreaking ‘almost’ 

The UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UPWVT) fell a hairline shy of securing their first win after the Ateneo Blue Eagles avenged their two-set stumble, 25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 17-25, 9-15.

State U started strong with Joan Monares and Stephanie Bustrillo powering their way for a 6-3 run to mark UP’s first set win of the season.

With the tides favoring the Diliman side, the Fighting Maroons continued to ride the waves to push a 3-0 surge that put them only one set closer to ending a 13-game losing skid.

However, when UP was leading 15-13 midway through the third set, the Blue Eagles came to life with a late 6-3 bomb, enough to establish momentum and secure the set.  

The Blue Eagles convincingly clawed their way back in the fourth set, mounting a firm 8-point lead to send the game to a deciding frame

UP seemed to have run out of steam as Ateneo led the first few rallies, going up 10-4 against the maroon shirts early. 

The Blue Eagles continued to show dominance as a Zel Tsunashima attack ultimately spoiled the Lady Maroons’ parade to what could have been their first UAAP win since March 5

Bustrillo led UP’s charge with 17 points, while Niña Ytang tallied 12 markers. 

Meanwhile, Lyann de Guzman spearheaded ADMU with 24 points built from 19 attacks, four blocks and an ace.

The Fighting Maroons will strive to enter the winning column as they face a tall order against the National University Bulldogs on Saturday, Mar. 2, at the Mall of Asia Arena.