MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The University of the Philippines avoided a massive collapse and outlasted Far Eastern University in a five-set marathon on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
In the first five-setter of the UAAP Season 84 women's volleyball tournament, it was the Fighting Maroons that emerged victorious as they hacked out a 25-12, 25-22, 24-26, 27-29, 15-11.
Alyssa Bertolano came through in the clutch for UP, scoring the final two points to finish with 25 markers, including 23 kills. The Fighting Maroons improved to 2-0 in the season, joining National University and De La Salle University at the top of the league standings.
"The first two sets, we played our game. The third and the fourth set, we felt that we had won the game already," admitted UP coach Godfrey Okumu. "We needed to regroup in the fifth set."
"The FEU team is also not an easy team. They're a strong team, and we give them respect," he added.
Irah Jaboneta, the younger sister of former UP men's basketball player Janjan Jaboneta, contributed 13 points, while veteran middle blocker Lorie Bernardo also scored 13. Jewel Encarnacio added 12 points.
The Lady Tamaraws dropped to 0-2 in the tournament.
The Fighting Maroons were two points away from a sweep after taking a 23-18 lead in Set 3, but FEU rode the steady service game of skipper Lycha Ebon to take eight of the last nine points.
Chenie Tagaod came alive for the Lady Tams down the stretch, before an attack error by UP completed FEU's comeback.
In the fourth set, the Fighting Maroons were again on the verge of triumph, 24-21, before Tagaod sparked the Lady Tams' recovery. In a back-and-forth finish, UP saved two set points before a Jean Asis hit and an error by Bertolano sent the match to a deciding frame.
The Maroons appeared headed for a comfortable win in the fifth as they took an 11-3 lead, before Tagaod again spurred the Lady Tamaraws' fightback. She anchored a 6-1 run that brought them within three points, 12-9.
But Jaila Atienza uncorked a quick hit, and Bertolano fired the last two kills to preserve the victory for UP.
"We still have a lot of things to work on as a team. We spike yes, we pass well, but we have to really work on defense, especially on the wings," Okumu said of his team.
Tagaod had 18 points in a losing effort, with 15 kills and two blocks. Jean Asis finished with 15 points, and Ebon scored 10.