MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) University of the Philippines (UP) completed a season sweep of De La Salle University in impressive fashion, as the Lady Maroons trounced the Lady Spikers in straight sets on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
In front of a raucous crowd, the Lady Maroons displayed their poise in the second set en route to a 25-16, 26-24, 25-19 triumph over the Lady Spikers.
This marks the second time this season that they had beaten the defending champions. UP outlasted La Salle in a memorable five-set thriller in the first round, 21-25, 25-20, 25-21, 20-25, 15-12, last March 2.
With the victory, the Lady Maroons improved to 5-3, and sent La Salle to the same record. They created a logjam for second place in the standings, as they are tied with Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas, just behind league-leading Ateneo de Manila University (7-1).
"It was a good game," said UP head coach Godfrey Okumu. "It's our lucky day today. It's our day today."
Tots Carlos led UP with 13 points, while Isa Molde adde 11 markers -- including the match winner for the Lady Maroons.
After comfortably taking the first set, the Lady Maroons were dragged to a nip-and-tuck battle in the second frame. The Lady Spikers surged to a 21-19 lead, with the Lady Maroons beginning to commit unforced errors.
But UP struck back, as a service error by La Salle captain Desiree Cheng knotted the count at 22, before a double contact violation on the Lady Spikers pushed UP ahead, 23-22. An attack error by Tots Carlos forced a 23-all tie, but La Salle could not sustain the momentum, as Aduke Ogunsanya threw the ball away in her next serve to put UP at set point, 24-23.
Des Clemente came up with a clutch rejection of Justine Dorog to tie the set for the final time, but once again, La Salle's poor serve haunted them. Rookie Jolina dela Cruz went long on her next serve, and Jessma Ramos made La Salle pay for their poor coverage to win the frame in the next rally.
The Lady Spikers committed 14 errors in what turned out to be the pivotal second set.
In the third frame, the Lady Spikers recovered from a 10-7 deficit and claimed a slim 17-16 advantage, after UP's Ayel Estrañero was called for a double-contact violation.
But it was all UP from there. The Lady Maroons won the next five points, with the Lady Spikers committing three errors in that run, giving UP a 21-17 lead. A service error by Lorie Bernardo kept La Salle alive, but May Luna also threw away her serve, and Marist Layug blocked Marrione Alba's attempt at a 1-2 play for a 23-18 UP lead.
A poor serve by Marianne Sotomil temporarily stopped UP's march, but Clemente also committed a brutal service error that saw the ball fail to even hit the net. Molde then wrapped up the match in just an hour and 29 minutes.
"I think and I believe that La Salle is a very good team, a very disciplined team. It's not easy to play against them. But, they are a team that serves well, but you could see that they served many balls out in very crucial moments, and that's what gave us the game," said Okumu afterward.
Indeed, La Salle committed a whopping 37 unforced errors in the match, while mustering just 28 attack points. Cheng was the only Lady Spiker in double-digits, with 11 points.
UP also becomes the first team since Ateneo in UAAP Season 79 to complete a season sweep of La Salle.
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