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Mighty Lady Maroons blast España shuttlers

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Defending champions University of the Philippines Lady Maroons overpowered fellow opening day winner University of Santo Tomas Lady Shuttlers, 5–0, to take their second straight victory of the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Badminton Tournament, Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Lady Maroons team captain Bea Bernardo opened the day for her team with a straight games victory over UST veteran Steffi Aquino. Bernardo got to the first game break first, 11–7. Aquino nosed out Bernardo after the break, but the third-year UP standout kept UST at bay and snatched the first game, 21–15. It was a similar fate in the following frame up to the break, as Bernardo headed into the ceasefire with the advantage, 11–8. This time, however, Aquino tried to bounce back but the Bernardo-lead was insurmountable. Bernardo emerged victorious, 21–18.

In the following singles match, last season’s Rookie of the Year Ann Marañon quashed UST’s Airish Macalinao in just 20 minutes of action. Macalinao took the first points of both games, before Marañon rolled to several scoring runs. UP led by as much as 10 points in the first game and mounted an even bigger 12-point lead in the second to keep the match out of reach for the España shuttler. Marañon took the match and the 2–0 tie lead for the reigning titlists 21–9, 21–7.

The long-time pairing of Lea Inlayo and reigning Most Valuable Player Jessie Francisco clinched the win for UP after outhustling UST’s strong duo of Patricia Barredo and Aquino. After a tight opening in the first game, Inlayo and Francisco scored five straight to secure the frame, 21–12. Aquino and Barredo took the lead in the following frame into the 11-point break, but could not keep that advantage. UP then wrestled the momentum and took the game and the match, 21–16.

In their first match as partners in a while, UP juniors and captains Bernardo and Elisha Ongcuangco took the court and swept Macalinao and Victoria Vizmonte in straight sets. The veteran Lady Maroons showed their might early on in the first game, continued up to a lead of as high as 13, and clinched the game, 21–8. Similar to what happened in the previous match, UST led before the break, before Bernardo and Ongcuangco pulled the rag off their opponents. The Maroons uncorked a five-point and back-to-back scoring runs to put the end to the match, 21–16.

In a classic battle between the rookie and the senior, it was newcomer Inlayo who got the better of graduating Barredo in three exciting sets on the third singles match to end the day. Barredo used her experience in the first set of their encounter to lead by as much as nine points, before the Thomasian wrapped it up, 21–14. Inlayo slowly got her bearings in the following set and led 11–7 at the break. The UST senior then crawled her way back into the match. In the end of the long tussle, the rookie rose as the victor and leveled the match, 23–21. The rookie used this momentum in the deciding game and unloaded a six-point run in the middle of the final game. The run proved to be pivotal as Inlayo fended off Barredo’s challenge to take the match and the sweep, 21–18.

The UP Lady Maroons (2-0) will go up against the DLSU Lady Shuttlers (1-1) on Wednesday, September 23 at 2:30pm while the UST Lady Shuttlers (1-1) will face the NU Lady Bulldogs (1-1) on the same day and time.

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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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