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Despite surprises, UP asserts mastery over Ateneo


The battle in UAAP Badminton starts with setting the players who will see action

And for the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, that was the story, as they fashioned out a 3-2 result past three-time Finals opponents Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.

Team captain Marina Caculitan shared that the defending champions have been bent on putting top singles player Poca Alcala in the third singles match. “Medyo expected na po namin [yun], kasi yun po yung nag-work sa ‘min last year,” she said.

What came as a stunner, however, was that the Lady Eagles sent the undefeated Bianca Carlos as anchor. The fourth-year Psychology major, along with the rest of the Fighting Maroons, was shocked, but optimism grew bigger.

“[Naisip po namin na] malaki naman po yung chance kasi we were betting on our doubles [pairs], tsaka isang singles,” she shared.

As the play started, the biggest shocker of the day came in the form of the UP skipper — who, despite playing in her first UAAP singles match, showed no jitters. Caculitan was impressive, trouncing the experienced Trixie Malibiran in straight sets, 21-12, 21-13.

Her co-skipper Ann Marañon then followed her lead, taking down Cassie Lim in three games, 21-17, 16-21, 22-20, in the second singles match. Tied at 20, Lim went for the shuttle, but backpedalled after hearing a call, which was apparently shouted from the audience. The rally did not stop, and Marañon ended the point to get to within one of winning the match.

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The call stood, and after another error from the Lady Eagles captain, UP took the game and the match.

Carlos and Geva De Vera attempted to rescue the Blue and White, but to no avail. The reigning queens’ strongest duo in Alcala and Jessie Francisco executed near flawlessly in the first doubles match. Ultimately, the latter breezed through at 21-11, 21-11, to take the match and the tie.

The win sent the four-peat—seeking Maroons to their fifth straight postseason appearance.

Ateneo took the last two matches as Malibiran and Chanelle Lunod downed Lea Inlayo and Marañon, 8-21, 21-16, 22-20. Afterwards, Carlos defeated Alcala, 21-15, 21-13.

The day, nonetheless, belongs to the Fighting Maroons, which moved a step closer to their aim of a fourth straight title.

“Happy kami na lahat ng hard work namin nag-pay off rin. And yun nga way na rin of giving back to the school and kay God,” Caculitan said of the feat.

The lone remaining undefeated team Fighting Maroons (4-0) will face the dangerous National University Lady Bulldogs (3-1) on Sunday, October 1 at 1pm. Meanwhile, it is Blue against Green as the Lady Eagles (3-1) will battle the De La Salle University Lady Archers (3-1) on the same day and time.

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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