Text by: Anton Onato
Photo by: Veejay Calutan
MANILA – The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons’ dream of reaching the final four vanished today as National University Lady Bulldogs emerged victorious during their game, 21-25, 16-25, 15-25, in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the San Juan Arena.
The Lady Maroons were not able stop the barrage of attacks coming from the Lady Bulldogs’ Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo and Jorelle Singh.
NU took a scoring spree in kills with 36 compared to UP’s 21. NU also outscored UP in blocking, 9-6.
Santiago once again led the Bulldogs with 17 points coming from 13 kills and four blocks to power her team to an 8-6 win-loss slate.
Pablo and Singh provided a strong back-up to Santiago with 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
UP, on the other hand, struggled in scoring as team captain Nicole Tiamzon and Marian Buitre only managed to score eight points each. Arianne Ilustre, Angeli Araneta, and Vina Alinas chipped in four points each.
The Lady Maroons tried to rally during the third set, getting as close as 12-14 before a barrage of attacks from the Lady Bulldogs hit them from nowhere, 19-14.
Tiamzon was not able find her groove the whole game and totally choked up at end game handing over two attack errors which pushed the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to six, 21-15.
An outside spike by Tiamzon ended the match.
But for Araneta, UP has nothing to be ashamed of this season.
“I got used to that UP always is at the bottom but I am happy now that we were able to win one game at a time,” said Araneta in Filipino.
Araneta also said that all she wanted this season was to change the way people see the UP Volleyball team. UP has been in the cellar, alongside UE, for the past season but for Araneta they were able to give a good fight despite falling short.
“I am very happy that there were a lot of people supporting us from the very beginning and that it changed already that when they hear UP will play, they will no longer say that we will lose,” said Araneta. “Whenever we step on the court, we always strive to give our best.”
UP finished the season at seventh place with a 5-9 card, an improvement from last season’s 4-10 finish.
With the elimination of UP, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws and University of Santo Tomas Tigresses will fight in a knockout game for the no. 4 spot and the right to face the Lady Bulldogs in a do-or-die game at the start of the step-ladder semis.
The De La Salle Lady Spikers, holding a twice-to-beat advantage, awaits the survivor of the step-ladder semifinals among the three teams while the defending champion Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles are already sure of a finals appearance armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage after sweeping the elimination rounds.