UP remains at rock bottom as La Salle throws block party

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons absorbed their fifth loss in as many outings in the UAAP Season 86 Collegiate Volleyball Tournaments as they bowed down to the towering De La Salle University (DLSU) squads on Sunday, March 10, at the Mall of Asia Arena. 

No set win yet

The woes continue to pile up for the UP Men’s Volleyball Team (UP MVT) as they endured another straight-sets beating, this time at the hands of the DLSU Green Spikers, 23-25, 12-25, 22-25. 

State U sustained their impeccable floor defense from past games, edging La Salle in digging (23-11) and receiving (33-29).

But the maroon squad struggled anew in converting their chance balls, registering a 25% attack clip as La Salle scored 9 points with their impenetrable net defense. 

Shrugging off an embarrassing second-set loss, the Fighting Maroons went neck-to-neck against the Green Spikers in the third frame as Angelo Lagando nailed an off-the-block hit at 20-22. 

However, a Lagando attack error and a Noel Kampton roll shot gave La Salle some breathing space with four match points.

Vince Maglinao’s service fault in the next sequence allowed Daniel Nicolas to score a last-gasp hit for UP at 22-24.

But it was an anticlimactic finish for the maroon shirts as Lagando closed the match with a crucial error from the service line.

Jessie Rubin led State U’s offense with 8 points. Middle blocker Angelo Lipata, who played as a wing spiker in the match, added 7 markers and 15 receptions.

Meanwhile, Eco Adajar set up four Green Spikers to double-digit scoring while also tallying 3 points and 16 excellent sets to his name.

In a losing spell

The UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) is off to their worst start since Season 76 after suffering a 15-25, 17-25, 18-25 thrashing by the defending champions, DLSU Lady Spikers. 

With the defeat, the maroon shirts have now dropped 16 consecutive games in the UAAP.

La Salle put on a masterclass for State U, schooling Niña Ytang, the league’s top blocker as of March 7, and the rest of the Fighting Maroons on net defense.

Setter Heart Magsombol orchestrates a play for UP. Photo by Marga Villena

Six Lady Spikers joined forces in guarding the net for a total of nine rejections. The Maroons, meanwhile, only had two, courtesy of Ytang and Dannica Celis. 

After two shaky sets, UP reshuffled its starting lineup in the third salvo, with Irah Jaboneta leading the way with an off-the-block hit at 15-18.

However, La Salle quickly flexed their championship pedigree, mounting a 5-0 response capped by Shevana Laput’s massive block on Abi Goc.

Goc stopped the bleeding for State U with a line ball before La Salle’s Lilay Del Castillo scored a quick hit and a denial to secure the win for the green-and-white. 

Joan Monares led UP with 9 points, while Ytang and Jaboneta contributed 7 markers each. Libero Yesha Capistrano also anchored the floor defense with 10 digs and 10 receptions.

Reigning rookie-MVP Angel Canino delivered the goods for DLSU with 16 points on 13 attacks, two blocks and an ace. 

The Fighting Maroons will try to end their slump against the University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday, March 13, with the UP MVT taking on the court at 10 a.m. and the UP WVT at 2 p.m.