A dramatic third day in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Badminton Tournament ensued Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
In perhaps the most anticipated tie of the qualifying rounds, former three-peat champions University of the Philippines Lady Maroons denied the national athlete-powered National University Lady Bulldogs of staining their immaculate record in eliminations.
The Fighting Maroons have extended it to 29 after the narrow 3-2 win.
UP’s Poca Alcala easily finished off Jiselle Capillo in the first singles match in just two games. Expectedly, national player and NU rookie Sarah Barredo had equalized, but not without a scare from UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year Lea Inlayo and getting it done in three games.
Nonetheless, the doubles pairs took it for the former UAAP champions from Diliman.
Alcala swept her assignments as she and long-time partner Jessie Francisco brushed aside Capillo and Jeya Pinlac in two games at the first doubles match. Inlayo, along with Ann Marañon, then plucked a huge revenge over Barredo in the second doubles match, as the former Rookies of the Year came from behind to stop the NU newbie and Sydney Open bronze medalist Thea Pomar in three sets.
Pomar the salvaged a win in the final singles match over UP rookie Jaja Andres in two.
Knowing the difficult task at hand, team captain Jessie Francisco said that the Maroons just remained focused. “Alam naman namin na isa sila sa pinakamalakas na makakalaban namin this season. We just played our game, laban lang at enjoy the game,” the UAAP Season 77 MVP said.
Over in the other courts, reigning champions De La Salle University Lady Shuttlers and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Shuttlers both produced 5-0 sweeps of the Adamson University Lady Falcons and the University of the East Lady Warriors, respectively, but in different fashions.
Last year’s champions from Taft denied their avenue-mates Lady Falcons as reigning Most Valuable Player Nicole Albo and team captain Iyah Sevilla swept their assignments over Clydel Pada and Mikaela Aquino.
Albo took down Pada in the first singles match, before Sevilla defeated her opposite number Aquino in the second singles contest. Both matches just needed two games. The La Salle pair eventually completed the run over these two Adamsonians, taking a two-game second doubles win.
Rookie Kanna Baba followed her seniors’ example after taking both her two matches as well. The newbie and her fellow frosh Victoria Yason outlasted Alyssa San Pedro and Jhay Anne Macabenta in the first doubles match to seal the win. Baba then stopped Macabenta in two in the third singled match.
The Tigresses on their part stopped an eight-match losing skid after denying the Lady Red Warriors, but not without much incident. UST already had it in the bag prior to this event.
Rookie Steph Mortera clinched her first-ever UAAP win after dominating Kessara Palot in two games. Her team captain Kate Tating then made it 2-0 in another sweep of her counterpart Erycka Labay.
Trailing 11-16 and with her skipper Labay on her side, Laville Laborte stumbled on her way to the shuttle and twisted her ankle. She tried to recover, but she could not and was eventually sent to the UE Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center.
The result is walk over wins for UST as Laborte was supposed to play the final singles match.