by Raphael Rayco
The University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons lost steam in the deciding set and bowed down to Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws, 25-27, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 12-15, in the first round of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament Season 78 at the Mall of Asia Arena, Sunday.
Despite having three players scoring in double digit, the Diliman-based squad fell short in the final frame.
Katherine Bersola led the team with 18 points while prized rookies Isa Molde and Diana Carlos added 17 and 15 points, respectively.
“Sobrang sayang, kasi chance na namin para umangat sa standings tapos pinakawalan pa namin (It was a sorry loss because it was our chance to go up in the standings and we let it go ),” said skipper Bersola.
FEU, meanwhile, relied on Bernadeth Pons and Toni Basas, who scored 21 points each.
Pons admitted she was not a hundred percent healthy coming into the game.
“‘Yung suggestion kasi ng doctor ay pahinga, pero hindi naman pwede kasi ongoing ‘yung season, so gamot na lang and strengthening lagi, (The suggestion of my doctor is for me to rest, but it can’t be because the season is ongoing, so I take up meds and do strengthening exercises everytime)” she said.
UP held on FEU late in the first set, 25-25, when Pons made a quick hit in the middle, followed by a net violation by Molde, giving FEU the 1-0 set advantage.
The second set was tightly played with the Lady Maroons leading, 22-21, when Bersola made a quick hit, followed by back-to-back errors from Pons, tying the game with a set for each team.
UP held an eight-point lead, 18-10, in the third, but squandered it midway allowing FEU to score a 12-1 run. It was capped off by a Heather Guino-o service ace, giving the Lady Tamaraws the lead, 19-22, eventually letting them steal the set.
The Lady Maroons, then, forced a deciding set after cruising the fourth set with combined scoring efforts from Bersola and Molde.
Finally, UP found themselves in a five-point hole, 1-6, in the deciding set, when they unleashed a mini-run to trim FEU’s lead to a single point, 9-10. The 8-4 bomb was highlighted by a service ace by rookie Dorog, who chipped in 11 points in the game.
FEU head coach Shaq Delos Santos called a timeout to calm his team down.
“Nu’ng fifth set, medyo nara-rattle nga sila. Sinabi ko, relax lang. Ang importante, makuha namin ‘yung set, (In the fifth set, the girls are a bit rattled. I said that they just have to relax. What is important is we win the set)” said Delos Santos.
This proved to be effective as the Lady Tamaraws never looked back and sealed the game, anchoring on team captain Mary Joy Palma’s finishing touches.
The loss sent the Lady Maroons tied with University of Santo Tomas (UST) for the fifth spot holding a 2-3 card. Meanwhile, FEU tied with National University for the third spot with a 3-2 slate.
UP will next face the UST Growling Tigresses at the Filoil Arena, Sunday.
“Kailangan talaga naming ayusin yung psychological state namin. Physically, alam kong kaya naman (ang UST), (We need to fix our psychological stage. But physically, I know that we can do better)” added the league’s former best blocker.