RIZAL MEMORIAL BADMINTON HALL, MANILA CITY – The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons were the inaugural UAAP Women’s Badminton Champions during the 58th season of the UAAP. The Lady Maroons would go on to win 6 straight women’s badminton championships until Season 63. UP would not hold that crown for 13 straight years until now. A team mostly composed of young rookies swept the entire season; a streak of 9 straight series wins, and brings the UAAP Women’s Badminton Championship from Katipunan back to Diliman.
Women’s Singles Match 1: Ma. Bianca Ysabel Carlos (ADMU) def. Paola Beatriz Bernardo (UP); 2:0
UP 0 – 1 ADMU
In the 2 matches that Bianca Carlos and Bea Bernardo had prior to this match in this season of the UAAP, Carlos would defeat Bernardo in 4 out of 5 games. Head-to-head, Carlos would average 21.6 points scored per game while Bernardo averaged 16.2. However, the 2nd set between the two during the 1st series of the finals challenge was something to build up on for Bea Bernardo as she defeated the former MVP in a thrilling 23-21 game.
Bea Bernardo would find success in her returns during the start of the 1st set. She would convert on majority of her drop returns to gain an 8-5 lead over Carlos. Bianca Carlos would find her footing and loosen-up. She would be all over the court returning with drops and lobs to eventually take the lead at 11-10 to enter the 11th point break and extend it to 15-11. A string of errors from Carlos caused by miscalculations would bring Bernardo to the game to tie things up at 18. Bianca Carlos would find success with her sharp returns to close the set 21-18.
The 2nd set started as a typical set for Bianca Carlos as she would outpace her opponent with constant movement to blitz to a huge 17-9 lead. The young Bernardo would rally 6 straight points, coming from overarching lobs and forced errors, to cut the Carlos lead to just 3. Bianca, unlike the 2nd set of their initial finals encounter, would not allow a collapse by outworking Bernardo at both ends to win the match with a 21-15 2nd set win.
Aggregate Score: Carlos 42 – Bernardo 33
Total Match Time: 35 mins
Women’s Singles Match 2: Patrisha Edrika Malibiran (ADMU) def. Mary Ann Maranon; 2-1
UP 0 – 2 ADMU
Patrisha Malibiran had an excellent season, especially during the late stages of the eliminations, as the 2nd singles player for the Ateneo-side. Mary Ann Maranon, on the other hand, is one of the top rookies in a deep recruitment class that includes FEU’s rookie revelations and, as well as, her UP teammates. Maranon stood-out amongst the rest as she is able to adjust her game from singles to doubles flawlessly. In their match during the 1st series of the finals challenge, it was the 2014 Palarong Pambansa Gold Medalist, Mary Ann Maranon, winning both sets in sweeping the lady shuttler from Katipunan.
During the 1st set of the match, Trixie Malibiran would jump to an early 7-3 lead in the contest. However, just like in their 1st meeting this season, Malibiran would commit various unforced errors to kill any run she would gain. Maranon would take advantage of this with her sharp returns to gain the lead at 15-13. Maranon and Malibiran would go point-for-point in the match with Malibiran tying the match at 19 but a string of errors would plague Malibiran to give-up the set to Maranon 21-19.
Trixie Malibiran going into the 2nd set has yet to win a game in the finals challenge. The Ateneo faithful would still believe in her with chants of Go Trixie, kaya mo yan! After a tied set, 8 –all, Malibiran would rally her way with a trifecta of excellent returns to gain the lead 11-8 prior to the technical timeout. Maranon’s drops would not work for her in this set, as all were short resulting to errors. Malibiran would never give the lead up in the set to finally win a game 21-18.
Malibiran would gain her old form that brought her the trust of Coach Vic and Kennie in the entire 3rd set. She would impose her will in the set to blitz to an 11-5 lead. Maranon would try to cut the deficit but with the score at 8-12, a Maranon point coming from a lob would be overturned by umpire Caldero. That halted any momentum Maranon had gained. Malibiran would continue to outwork Maranon in the set to win the match with a 21-15 win.
Aggregate Score: Malibiran 61 – Maranon 54
Total Match Time: 58 mins
Women’s Doubles Match 1: Paola Beatriz Bernardo and Jessie Francisco (UP) def. Ma. Bianca Ysabel Carlos and Dia Nicole Magno (ADMU); 2:0
UP 1 – 2 ADMU
The pairing of Carlos and Magno was a line-up change that the Ateneo coaches only used during the finals this season. Carlos and Magno would defeat Francisco and Elisha Ongcuangco in 3 sets in the 1st series of the women’s finals challenge. To adjust to the match-up, Coach Malvin and Coach Jeremy would tweak the line-up and give the lanky Bea Bernardo the doubles spot together with Francisco hoping that the length of the lady shuttlers from Diliman would stymie the strength of the Ateneo pair.
The move of the UP coaches paid-off as Bernardo and Francisco would take a 13-8 lead over the more experienced team of Carlos and Magno. Bernardo and Francisco would take turns in returning the smashes of their opponents, setting-up with lobs and finishing the rally with drops. The lady shuttlers from Diliman would extend the lead to 18-15 before Carlos and Magno would cut the lead to 1 at 19-18. A Carlos error and an excellent push return by Francisco would give the set to UP, 21-19.
Carlos and Magno would not be in-sync all throughout the next set. A string of errors; forced and unforced, including a couple of miscues, would give them a huge 16-8 hole midway. They would not be able to recover as Bernardo and Francisco would pull-off an upset over Carlos and Magno with a 2nd set 21-12 win and a sweep.
Aggregate Score: Bernardo and Francisco 42 – Carlos and Magno 31
Total Match Time: 35 mins
Women’s Doubles Match 2: Marina Caculitan and Mary Ann Maranon (UP) def. Cassandra Grace Lim and Patrisha Edrika Malibiran (ADMU); 2:1
UP 2 – 2 ADMU
Not wanting to squander the 2-match lead of the Ateneo Lady Shuttlers, an aggressive Cassie Lim came out in the 1st set of the match. She would lead the Ateneo tandem with various excellent push returns. Caculitan and Maranon would not have an answer for the length of Lim in a 21-10 route.
Coming out of the huddle, the UP pair utilized the speed of Maranon and the length of Caculitan to gain an early 11-4 lead. Maranon would either make drop or lob returns that would set-up a Caculitan smash. The UP lead would extend to 18-10 before they can close the set out 21-17.
Cassie Lim would again try to gain the lost momentum for the Ateneo pair. Earlier in the deciding set, she would connect on excellent returns to give her tandem a 9-5 lead. Maranon and Caculitan would find success in redirecting all their returns towards Malibiran, who would commit forced errors in her attempted returns. Caculitan and Maranon would take a 20-16 lead late in the set. To closeout the final set for the match-up, Caculitan would hit an emphatic smash coming from a Malibiran lob to win the set 21-17 and force a 5th match.
Aggregate Score: Maranon and Caculitan 52 – Lim and Malibiran 55
Total Match Time: 55 mins
Women’s Singles Match 3: Jessie Francisco (UP) def. Janelle Gloriane de Vera (ADMU); 2:0
UP 3 – 2 ADMU (UP wins the women’s badminton championship)
If this match happened early in the season, a Francisco win over Jana de Vera would be called an upset. However, as the season went on, Jessie Francisco carried a quiet confidence in her that translated well on the court. And now, it is Janelle de Vera who is trying to secure an upset win over Francisco to try to extend the Finals challenge and give Ateneo a chance to fight another day.
In two sets, Jessie Francisco would outclass and outwork Jana de Vera. De Vera would only score on a few missteps by Francisco. Francisco would take the 1st set with a score of 21-16.
The 2nd set was a showcase of the court generalship of Francisco. She would force De Vera into her pace with various low drops and high lobs that would eventually tire-out De Vera. With the score at 20-10, Francisco would commit 3 errors before closing out the tournament with an excellent return to win the championship for the UP Lady Maroons with a score of 21-13.
Aggregate Score: Francisco 42 – De Vera 29
Total Match Time: 30 mins
After placing 3rd in last year’s women’s badminton tournament, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons has swept the entire UAAP Season 77 Women’s Badminton Tournament. It is a triumph to the dedication of the school to build an excellent varsity program.
Coach Jeremy stressed that despite being down 2-0 in the early goings of the 2nd finals series, the line-up adjustment the staff made in the 1st doubles match, placing Bea Bernardo in the doubles match would pay off. Moreover, they were fortunate that Francisco matched-up well with De Vera in the 5th and deciding match.
Coach of the year, Coach Malvin Alcala, said that the championship was a tribute to the hard work of the coaches, team managers and the players. But the work is not yet over he added. He is already looking forward to next year’s tournament, as the team would defend the title against a dedicated Coach Escoses-led Far Eastern University team, the ADMU Lady Shuttlers and the DLSU Lady Shuttlers. Preparation for next year has started with recruitment and, hopefully, the end of residency for Coach Alcala’s daughter, which would make an already deep UP Lady Maroon team deeper.
The UP Lady Maroons are currently mulling if they would enter the University Games 2014 in Iloilo since it might coincide with the PBaRS.
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