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Back-to-back: Lady Maroons bag eighth title in style

UP Lady Maroons continued their dominance and swept the UAAP 78 Badminton Tournament to capture their eighth crown.

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The throne was defended.

The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons repeated their 3–1 rout of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in the second finals tie to take their second consecutive title, and eighth overall championship, as the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Badminton Tournament drew to a close, Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Former Rookie of the Year – Most Valuable Player, Bianca Carlos started the day for Ateneo with a straight-game victory in the first singles match over UP skipper, Bea Bernardo. Carlos led early in the first game 6–1, before Bernardo slowly cut the deficit and took the lead, 10–9. From there, Carlos hit six unanswered points to gain control of the frame. The Lady Blue Shuttler eventually won, 21–13. The next game, Carlos continued to hit Bernardo with a variety of shots to take the advantage at the interval, 11–5. Ateneo led by as many as eight points, 14–6, and never looked back. Carlos snatched an early 1–0 tie lead against UP.

That turned out to be Ateneo’s last hurrah as UP inched back towards the crown, starting with the second singles match. Last year’s top rookie, Ann Marañon subdued Janel Dihiansan in two straight games to level the tie for the Lady Maroons. In the opening frame, Marañon romped to a huge 5–0 run to start off her match, and led by as high as eight, 11–3, into the break. Dihiansan tried to keep it close, but Marañon was able to deal with everything Dihiansan threw at her. The Lady Maroon took the first game, 21–11. The second game was much closer, but Marañon emerged from the deadlock at 5 to get the lead at the interval, 11–7. Marañon worked hard to deny her opponent every chance, and secured the game and the match, 21–11.

In the first doubles match, Season 77 Most Valuable Player, Jessie Francisco, and eventual Rookie of the Year awardee, Lea Inlayo, pulled through against Ateneo’s Carlos and Cassie Lim. Ateneo came off the blocks with a 4–0 run, then UP slowly cut the deficit. After an exchange of points, Lim and Carlos went into the interval ahead at 11–8. Soon after, the Lady Maroons mounted a 6-point run to take the lead, 17–11. That advantage powered Inlayo and Francisco to take the first game, 21–17. In the second game, Carlos took over, with ample support from Lim, to level the match. Ateneo took a narrow 11–7 advantage at the break, before dismantling UP in the following rallies and securing the game, 21–12. With the implications of the match both on their championship aspirations and Inlayo’s dream of getting the ROY trophy, the Lady Maroons stamped their class in the deciding game. Francisco and Inlayo scored four straight to go into the court change, 11–8. UP then held Ateneo back as they won the game and the match, 21–15.

Playing their first UAAP doubles match together, UP Captain Bernardo and Marañon proved there is always a good first time. Going up against the veteran tandem of Geva De Vera and Dihiansan, the UP pair showed their championship composure, though it was not evident in the opening frame, as Ateneo took the first game, 21–16. Dihiansan and De Vera had a 6–0 run that fuelled them to clinch the first frame. UP tried to keep themselves in it, but a service fault from Marañon conceded the game to the Lady Blue Shuttlers. In the following game, the Marañon and Bernardo regained control with three different 5-0 scoring streaks, and the Lady Maroons pushed the match into the deciding game, 21–12.

The final game was a tight battle before Bernardo and Marañon strung together three points to get to the court change, 11–10. The two pairs exchanged points and pushed themselves to 13-all deadlock. However, a wild 7-point romp put the Lady Maroons at match point and at the cusp of taking the title. Dihiansan and De Vera had other plans, however, and deftly cut the deficit to three, 17–20. Needing just a point to finish it off, Marañon drove a shot into the back of the court and forced Dihiasan to attempt a return to no avail. It was game, set, and match for the Lady Maroons.

Summary:
Singles 1: Carlos (ADMU) d Bernardo (UP) 21–13, 21–10
Singles 2: Marañon (UP) d Dihiansan (ADMU) 21–10, 21–11
Doubles 1: Francisco/Inlayo (UP) d Carlos/Lim (ADMU) 21–17, 12–21, 21–15
Doubles 2: Bernardo/Marañon (UP) d De Vera/Dihiansan (ADMU) 16–21, 21–12, 21–17

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Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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