On the verge of a historic title, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons momentarily looked on route to a monumental meltdown in Game Two of the PVL Collegiate Conference Finals.
UP blew a 2-0 sets lead and were dragged into a decider by a hungry Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws side. Last season’s runners-up in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament were poised to force a Game Three, holding a 13-7 lead in the last set.
But, UP had a plan – they had Ayel Estrañero.
“That was all part of the plan,” said second year Lady Maroons head coach Godfrey Okumu.
After FEU gave up an error in the following point, UP’s graduating setter stepped to the service line and never left until the end of the match.
Maybe he did not have it planned that UP would score the next eight points en route to ending a 36-year title drought. But, Okumu knew they had a chance with Estrañero serving.
“On defense I just told them that they (FEU) were sending their attacks down the line. We just have to close that off. What happened was they kept attacking down – cross-court,” the Kenyan tactician recalled.
“Our defense did great in keeping the ball alive. But it was because of Ayel that we are here.”
Estrañero served two of her four aces in the championship-winning stretch, finishing with six points and 28 excellent sets.
“That was just us trusting each other – my teammates, the coaches.
“We believed that the game wasn’t over and we just had to keep working,” said Estrañero.