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Miguel’s 22 helps UP outlast UST for first win

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The University of the Philippines Maroons experimented with a different starting six and nailed their first win of the UAAP Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the expense of tge new-look University of Santo Tomas Tigers 25-17, 22-25, 25-19, 25-21 at the FilOil Flying V Centre earlier today.

The Tigers carried over their initial struggle from their opening day loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles. With players still adjusting to new roles, UST kept coughing up errors. UP, on the other, hand bucked their error problems and smoothly got into a rhythm.

UP head coach, Rod Palmero also sat two of his veterans – team captain Alfred Valbuena ans graduating middle blocker Evan Raymundo – in place of rookies Niccolo Consuelo and Lorenzo Trinidad. His adjustment paid off, as both rookies barely made mistakes throughout the match.

The Maroons took the first set handily as UST got their error fest started early. UP’s floor defense eluded them in the second frame, allowing UST to jump out to a 16-10 lead. UP tried a last ditch push but UST’s Arnold Bautista and Manuel Medina shut the door and tied the match at a set apiece.

UP regained their form in the third set, blasting the Tigers with an early run that had them go ip by as much as eight, 16-8. The Tigers tried to shuffle in other players but their adjustments went for naught. UP’s Wendel Miguel and rookie Mark Millete got the Maroons to set point and ended the set just when the Tigers got momentum.

The fourth set was perhaps the tightest affair with UST able to cling to a two-point lead for much of the frame. Leading 18-16, UST’s attack suddenly gave out. UP shored up their blocking and stymied all of UST’s attempts en route to a 20-18 lead. Having sat out much of the match, Alfred Valbuena came in late and provided a much-needed offensive jolt that allowed UP to clinch the match.

Miguel led all scorers with 22 points built on 20 attacks a block and an ace. Millete followed with 15 markers.

“Masaya ako kasi nagstep-up ‘yung mga batang pinasok ko. Medyo may problema sa mga beterano ko kaya napilitan talaga ako maghanap ng ibang option,” said Palomero. “Kailangan pa din namin maging mas consistent sa lahat ng ginagawa namon. May mga oras na nawawala kasi sa laro namin bigla.”

The Tigers kept pace with the Maroons in almost every offensive category except for errors. UST gave up 40 to UP’s 22.

Arnold Bautista led the Tigers with 20 points while opposite hitter, Manuel Medina had 15.

Both teams have their next match on February 13 at the FilOil Flying V Centre with UST (1-1) taking on the UE Warriors (0-2) at 8 a.m. and UP facing the NU Bulldogs (1-0) at 10 a.m.

The Scores

UP (3) – Miguel 22, Millete 15, San Pascual 4, Cosuelo 4, Vabuena 4, Luna 2, Acuna 2, Raymundo 1, Trinindad 1, Baldelovar 0, San Pedro 0, Madrigalejos (L), Nasol (L)

UST (1) – Bautista 20, Medina 15, Balse 10, Amagan 5, Carodan 5, Sarabia 5, Castillo 0, Guzman 0, Sumagaysay 0, Francisco (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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