Without second-leading scorer Isa Molde, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons escaped the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-11, in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Following a timeout, UP erased a 20-23 UE lead in the first set, taking the next five points and escaping with the early lead. UE then mustered their own late run in the second frame, quickly turning a 19-20 deficit into a 25-20 set win.
The Lady Maroons battled out of a 0-5 deficit in the third set and established a 13-11 cushion, thanks to solid net play from Marist Layug. UP’s lead grew to as much as four, 20-16, but the Lady Warriors fought back and turned the final sequences into a grind. Tots Carlos then drove a hit wide that trimmed their lead to one, 24-23. Threatened with a deuce, UP pulled off a clutch quick play for Aie Gannaban to close the set.
UE took late command of the fourth set, nabbing a 22-20 lead after two Judith Abil kills. UP retaliated, with Carlos and Marian Buitre conspiring to push the Lady Warriors ahead, 23-22. Carlos ended up with a serve error followed by another Abil conversion to place UE ahead, 24-23. An exchange of service errors ended in Mary Ann Mendrez’s off-the-block kill and dragged the match to a decider.
UP gained the early 8-4 edge in the fifth set, with Buitre and Justine Dorog providing offense. UE slowly climbed back, getting to within one, 10-9, following back-to-back Mendrez hits. Layug and Jessma Ramos then buoyed the Lady Maroons to a 13-9 lead. Another UP block and a UE error eventually gave UP the win.
Buitre poured in a season-high 19-points in filling up for Molde.
Carlos had a monster line of 16 points, 24 digs and 24 excellent receptions. Marist Layug added 15 markers.
“The game today it was hard, it wasn’t easy. As I’ve said before, nothing comes easy for us. But we have to just work hard in every single point. And, again a win is a win, so I’m happy with the win,” said UP head coach Godfrey Okumu.
Mary Ann Mendrez topped all scorers with 23 points. Judith Abil piled up 22 points, 29 digs, and 19 excellent receptions. Libero Kath Arado provided a strong defensive presence with 35 digs and 31 excellent receptions.
Season 78 Rookie of the Year Molde is likely to return on Saturday when UP face the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (6-3) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Meanwhile, UE (2-8) take on the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses (6-4), also on Saturday.
UP (3) – Buitre 19, Carlos 16, Layug 15, Gannaban 8, Dorog 6, Estrañero 6, Rosier 6, Bernardo 3, Ramos 2, Altomea (L)
UE (2) – Mendrez 23, Abil 22, Baliton 10, Olarve 6, Rodriguez 6, Baliton 5, Alcayde 0, Babol 0, Gabarda 0, Manabat 0, Arado (L)