MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) University of the Philippines (UP) got back on track in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament on Sunday, but not before encountering a stiff challenge from Adamson University at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Maroons needed to recover from a first-set collapse, then had to fend off the Lady Falcons' last-ditch rally to claim a 25-27, 25-14, 25-12, 25-21 triumph.
The Katipunan spikers were coming off back-to-back losses to Ateneo de Manila University and National University, before regaining their winning ways and securing a 4-3 record at the end of the first round. The Lady Maroons are currently tied with idle Far Eastern University for a share of fourth place.
"I'm so happy kasi after all our struggles in the past games, nakapag-laro na kami ulit ng maayos," said UP captain Tots Carlos.
"Moving forward to the second round, malaking confidence-booster siya sa team," added playmaker Ayel Estrañero. "It's good to know na kaya talaga namin manalo, if we play together, and we believe in each and everyone of us."
Carlos and Isa Molde each scored 14 points, while Marist Layug added 11 markers. Estrañero was credited with 28 excellent sets, as UP tallied 53 kills in the game.
The Lady Maroons appeared headed for a quick win after zooming to a 22-18 advantage in the first set, only for the Lady Falcons to come roaring back, thanks to a series of UP errors and some fine net defense from Adamson. A block by Chiara Permentilla on Marian Buitre knotted the count at 23, before Bern Flora fired an ace to put Adamson at set point, 24-23.
Buitre made up for her earlier miscue and forced deuce, only for Permentilla to respond with a crosscourt attack that made it 25-24. A Molde swipe tied the set for the last time at 25, before Carlos committed a service error, and Adamson setter MJ Igao tipped the ball over to win the frame for the Lady Falcons.
"Our finishing (is) not up to the standard that we want it to be," admitted UP coach Godfrey Okumu. "That's why we couldn't manage to get the first set."
UP restored order in the second and third frames, winning comfortably. They were also way ahead, 24-17, in the fourth set following back-to-back errors from Adamson, when the Lady Falcons mounted one last comeback attempt.
A tip by Eli Soyud, back-to-back aces by Flora, and a hit by Permentilla allowed Adamson to save four set points, and put them within three, 24-21.
The Lady Maroons would not be denied, however, as Estrañero set up Layug for the swipe that won the game for UP.
"The fourth set was also a little challenging," Okumu acknowledged. "But we managed to finish well."
UP got 34 free points off Adamson's errors, while the Lady Falcons mustered just 41 kills in the game.
Joy Dacoron led Adamson with 15 points, while Soyud added 10 markers. The Lady Falcons lost for the third straight game, and ended the first round with a 1-6 win-loss record.
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