Wednesday evening, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons had the inside track on the win, leading 14-10 in the fifth set against National University. But, as head coach Godfrey Okumu would later state, UP inexplicably collapsed, letting NU go on a 7-1 run.
The loss sent UP tumbling out of the top four with a 3-3 standing, putting them in a precarious situation after they were billed as one of the favorites to begin the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
“The results are not good, and it’s putting our team in a very, very tight situation. Yeah. But, I believe we still have the fight in us,” said the Kenyan head coach.
“What happened today, it’s hard to describe. We had the fourth set, we also had the fifth set. But, it just didn’t happen – we just lost it. So, again, we spent a lot of energy trying to fight back every single moment. And I hope that come the weekend, we’d be able to adjust and play better. We also had shortcomings with our passing. We tried to work on that, but still, it needs more work.”
The situation was dire as, after the match, emotions ran high within the team. Before entering the dugout, the coaching staff allowed the players to have a few minutes to themselves. UP eventually came out of the locker room over an hour after their loss.
“We let them discuss, talk to one another, and meditate over what happened. So they’re not taking it lightly. It’s really a heartbreaking moment, it’s hard for them as well,” said Okumu.
“As much as a coach, I would like to shout, but it doesn’t matter whether you shout or speak slowly or whatever you do. People will still listen, people will still hear you. So we just have to continue encouraging and go back to the drawing board, and see where we went wrong, and correct and make things right.”
UP need to find a way out of their slump quickly. Unlike last year, there is very little room for mistakes.
“We are no longer a team in progress. We’re a team that is strong, a team that is a power to reckon with.”
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