MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines finally broke through a four-game slump by beating University of the East in four sets, 25-14, 18-25, 25-15, 25-10, on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Maroons registered their first win of the second round of the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament, and hiked their record to 5-4.
"Siguro, na-minimize lang 'yung errors [today]," said UP assistant coach Ralf Ricafort. "Hindi ganoon karami [ang errors] sa receive. Kumpyansa na rin ang mga bata."
(We minimized our errors today, especially on reception. The players were more confident.)
Outside of the second set, it was a mostly comfortable victory for the Lady Maroons, who opened the season with four straight wins only to drop four consecutive matches.
Diana Carlos had 21 points on 15 attacks, two blocks, and four aces for UP, but it was former captain Kathy Bersola who earned Player of the Game honors after tallying 18 points on 15 attacks and two blocks. Isa Molde added 16 markers, including four aces.
UP won the opening frame easily, but the Lady Warriors bounced back in the second set as they scored seven unanswered points, highlighted by back-to-back aces from newly-minted national team member Roselle Baliton.
UE went up 7-0, and the Lady Maroons were unable to overhaul the deficit despite a late rally.
"Siguro, bad start, and at the same time, nag-try rin si coach (Jerry Yee) ng ibang ikot. Hindi nag-work, tapos hindi namin ma-recover noong lumalayo na," Ricafort explained. "Ayaw namin ipatalo, pero hindi namin mahabol."
(It was a bad start, and Coach Jerry Yee was also trying a new rotation. It didn't work, and we couldn't recover when they pulled away. We didn't want to lose, but we couldn't catch up.)
The Lady Maroons regained their bearings in the third set, however, as they raced to a 16-8 advantage thanks to a series of powerful kills from Bersola. It did not help that UE committed several unforced errors that helped UP pull away.
The fourth set was an all-UP show, with Bersola and Isa Molde taking turns punching in hits against UE's porous net defense. The Lady Warriors' service reception also dipped, and UP skipper Ayel Estrañero took advantage with back-to-back aces in the final stretch.
With the victory, UP moved to a tie with FEU and NU for the fourth to sixth places in the league standings.
Skipper Shaya Adorador led the Lady Warriors with 12 points. Baliton had eight points, including four aces, to go along with 25 excellent sets, but in terms of playmaking, she was out-played by UP's Estrañero, who had 42 excellent sets in the match that lasted an hour and 26 minutes.
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