Reigning champions, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons won the tie against the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Blue Shuttlers over four matches to inch closer to a back-to-back title, this Wednesday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
Former Rookie of the Year – Most Valuable Player, Bianca Carlos, won the first singles match for Ateneo against UP Team Captain Bea Bernardo. The two players battled hard at the start of the match, but five unanswered points saw Carlos ahead at the interval, 11–6. From there, Carlos kept the lead to win, 21-12. The next game, Bernardo went ahead early, 4–2, only for Carlos to pull ahead with a scoring streak. Three straight points from Bernardo after the break cut the deficit to one, 10–11, but Carlos held out to win, 21–14.
In the second singles match, last year’s top rookie, Ann Marañon, continued an impressive second season against Cassie Lim. After Lim got the opening point, Marañon stepped up to go ahead 11–6 at the break. Seven straight points for Marañon, after the interval, put the game out of reach, and it ended 21–12. Marañon took her momentum into the next game as she broke from a four-all deadlock with a 7–0 scoring run to lead at the break. Lim tried to fight back after the interval, but her energy drained as Marañon took the match, 21–11.
UP’s Lea Inlayo and Jessie Francisco went into the first doubles match against Ateneo’s Geva De Vera and Janel Dihiansan with high intensity. For the first game, Inlayo and Francisco led early, 9-4, but the Ateneans scored seven consecutive points for the advantage at the break, 9-11. The game was back and forth until UP broke to get within two points of taking the game, but De Vera and Dihiansan scored three to reach the first game point. Having fended off two game points by Ateneo, Inlayo and Francisco got the win, 24-22. In the following game, Ateneo took the early lead as UP succumbed to errors, 0-4, but Inlayo and Francisco came back to win, 21–12.
With the crucial match clinched in UP’s favor, there was less pressure on captains Bernardo and Elisha Ongcuangco, and it showed in their control over the second doubles match. It was a tight at the start of the first game, but the Maroons went into the break leading 11–7. Ateneo’s Carlos and Lim cut the deficit to one, 12-11, but UP went on a 9–0 romp to win, 21–11. The next game, it was the Ateneans who secured the advantage into the interval, 11–10. After the break, they fought to reach game point and win, 21–19. But after the court change, the UP captains started off with a 5-0 run to lead 11-5. They went on from there to reach match point by a comfortable 20-12 margin. Carlos and Lim cut the deficit with a four-point swing, but Bernardo and Ongcuangco held on to win the match and the tie, 21–16.
The Lady Maroons are in the cusp of clinching their eighth title and will try to clinch it on the Finals Tie 2 on Saturday, October 17, at the same venue, against the Lady Blue Shuttlers.
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