by Raphael Rayco
The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons inched closer to a much sought-after Final Four appearance by cruising past University of the East (UE) Red Warriors, 25-23, 25-22, 25-14, in the second round of the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball wars Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
The Diliman-based spikers drew solid performances from sensational rookie Isa Molde and sophomore Marian Buitre, who both scored 12 points to keep ahold of the third spot in the team standings with a 7-4 record.
UP kept its fighting composure in the first two sets as UE managed to have a close scoring margin and attempted to win a set against them.
The Warriors kept the game at bay despite losing team skipper Celine Domingo for a while, who had an awkward landing early in the first set. She eventually returned in the third set.
Errors made by the Recto-based volleybelles in the final plays of these sets nailed the close wins for the Maroons.
In the final set, UP made sure to pull away a sweeping victory through their strong start with a five-point lead, 11-6.
The Maroons flashed an 8-4 run in the middle of the third canto to further enlarge their cushion, 19-10.
Molde put the icing on the cake for UP via an open hit to keep UE winless after 11 games.
Abby Adorador and Mary Anne Mendrez scored 13 and eight points, respectively, in a losing effort for the Warriors.
In men’s volleyball action, the Fighting Maroons failed to duplicate their surprising win against National University (NU) Bulldogs in the first round by bowing to them in straight sets, 17-25, 19-25, 17-25.
Team captain Alfred Valbuena was the lone bright spot for UP with 16 points, 15 of which are through hits, to grab their sixth loss against five wins.
Madzlan Gampong and James Natividad led NU with 15 points apiece to exact revenge on their shocking straight sets-loss to UP in the first round.
The Maroons nailed an unexpected victory against the Bulldogs last February 13 by sweeping them, 25-19, 25-20, 31-29.