MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The University of the Philippines (UP) survived a scoring explosion by Eya Laure to stun the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Fighting Maroons handed UST its first loss of the UAAP Season 84 women's volleyball tournament after taking a 25-21, 23-25, 25-21, 25-22 triumph.
UP skipper Jewel Encarnacion led the way with 16 points as they improved to 3-0 in the season, while explosive rookie Alyssa Bertolano shook off a slow start to finish with 15 points in the victory.
The Golden Tigresses, after sweeping their first two assignments, absorbed their first loss as Kungfu Reyes got few contributors outside of Laure. The former Rookie of the Year had 28 points, the most by any player this season, but no other UST player reached double-digits. Camille Victoria, a solid scorer in their first two games, was held to seven points.
"It was not an easy game. UST is a very, very strong team. They are very experienced, they have good coaching staff," said UP head coach Godfrey Okumu. "So, it's a win, yes, but it wasn't easy for us. We really had to work hard for it."
Entering the game, UST had yet to drop a set in Season 84 but the Maroons pounced on their errors to steal the opening frame. The Tigresses committed six miscues in Set 1, but two of those came in a crucial stretch -- a hitting error by Laure that put UP at set point, and then a service error that gave the Maroons the winner.
UST recovered in Set 2, relying on Laure to pull away from UP before a clutch hit by Ysa Jimenez levelled the match. But their win in the second frame didn't give the Tigresses any momentum; instead it was UP that raced to an 11-2 advantage in Set 3.
Errors by the Maroons and more hits by Laure allowed UST to crawl back, and they trailed by just two points, 15-13. UP won the next three points to gain some breathing room, however, and the Maroons held on for the win.
In Set 4, UP broke away from a 13-all count as Bertolano began to find her mark while the Tigresses fell apart with a series of miscues. An ace by Bertolano off her jump serve made it 19-13. UP reached match point off a push by the rookie before they stuffed a Laure hit to wrap up the victory in two hours and 11 minutes.
"Utak at puso po talaga ang pinapagana namin. Kung ano ang plano para sa amin ni coach, sinusunod lang po talaga namin," said Encarnacion of their win.
The Fighting Maroons had a slight lead in kills, 47-43, and had five fewer errors, 35-30.