Downward spiral continues as UP stumbles vs UST

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons wrapped up their round-one penultimate games in the UAAP Season 86 Collegiate Volleyball Tournaments with a pair of beatings against the University of Santo Tomas (UST), March 13, at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Both State U squads remain at the bottom of the standings with a 0-6 record.

Victory quest persists

The UP Men’s Volleyball Team (UPMVT) suffered another sweep defeat at the claws of Season 85 silver medalists UST Golden Spikers, 23-25, 14-25, 16-25. 

With their strategic deficiencies, State U failed to break their 9-game losing streak which dates back to the previous season.

The Golden Spikers established dominance early in the first salvo as a signature kill by Josh Ybañez trailblazed their squad’s 0-5 run. 

However, the Fighting Maroons were able to chase the lead after UST’s consecutive errors, bringing the match to a 7-all deadlock.

Both teams powered through neck-and-neck exchanges, but an error on UP’s side followed by a quick hit by Rainier Flor paved the way to a first-set win for UST. 

The Golden Spikers maintained composure, inflating their biggest lead by 12 points on the second set courtesy of their offensive plays. 

UP’s Angelo Lagando mounted a powerful kill to bridge the 13-24 gap, but Sherwin Umandal pummeled back with a crosscourt attack to clinch the second set. 

The Fighting Maroons failed to regain momentum throughout the remainder of the match as Trevor Valera finished the game with a 9-point deficit in the third frame. 

The maroon shirts grappled with their defense, registering only a 22.89% efficiency on digs with 43% on receptions, yielding ground to a UST resurgence at the winning column. 

Gamban led the Fighting Maroons’ efforts with 13 points, with the help of Angelo Lipata who tallied 8 markers. 

On the flip side, last season’s rookie-MVP Josh Ybañez delivered 21 points.

Fighting the good fight

The UP Women’s Volleyball Team (UP WVT) put up a gallant stand but could not finish the job against the UST Golden Tigresses, succumbing in a close sweep loss, 22-25, 20-25, 24-26.

Despite losing their 17th straight game in the UAAP, the rebuilding UP squad showed promise against UST, dominating the latter at the net with 10 rejections in just three sets played.

The maroon shirts’ stellar defensive outing comes three days after getting whipped by De La Salle University, which scored a huge 9-2 block differential in their one-sided encounter.

UP hosted their version of a blocking spree in the absence of ace player Niña Ytang, who missed the match following the loss of her mother. 

With their backs against the wall in the third set, Jewel Encarnacion provided State U the spark off the bench, tooling a block to equalize at 23-all.

Rookie sensation Angge Poyos pounded the pavement in the ensuing play to put UST at match point.

Displaying nerves of steel, Heart Magsombol gambled on Steph Bustrillo from the backrow, who hammered the ball past the UST net defense to force a deuce.

But the celebration did not last long for the Fighting Maroons as Poyos and Regine Jurado scored back-to-back hits for the Golden Tigresses to seal the victory.

Bustrillo posted her best game of the season so far with 14 points on 11 attacks and 3 blocks, while Heart Magsombol tossed 17 excellent sets to go with 6 points.

On the other hand, Poyos towed the top-seeded Golden Tigresses to their sixth straight win with 22 markers. 

The Fighting Maroons will close out the first round of eliminations against the University of the East on March 17 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, with the UP MVT serving at 12 noon and the UP WVT at 4 p.m.