Locked in a tight chase for a Final Four spot, the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons negotiated a momentary cushion for the fourth seed, sweeping the University of the East Red Warriors, 25-22, 25-23, 25-18, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
With skipper Wendel Miguel back to full health after a shoulder injury, the Maroons staved off a spirited early challenge from the Red Warriors. The first set came down to late service reception errors, on which UP capitalized. The Maroons then fought off the Red Warriors in the second frame, scoring clutch consecutive points to take a 2-0 lead and momentum. UP then sealed the win, blitzing their foes midway through to get the win.
UP head coach Rod Palmero was happy to see consistency and a solid close-out from his team.
“So ganoon naman talaga ang hinahanap mo sa kanila – maipakita nila na kaya nilang tumapos ng laban. Sabi ko lang sa kanila na i-enjoy ‘yung laban at huwag isipin ‘yung pressure,” Palmero said.
Senior open hitter Alfred Valbuena led the Maroons with 19 points, while Mark Millete added 13. Playing the entire match, Miguel managed eight markers.
With a 5-5 record, UP play a big match on Saturday as they face their biggest contender for the fourth seed, the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers (4-6) at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Skipper Edward Camposano towed UE with 15 points while Geric Ortega added eight.
After breaking their 35-game losing streak last week, UE have lost two straight matches and are still sitting at the bottom of the standings with a 1-9 slate. They face the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (5-4) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
UP (3) – Valbuena 19, Millete 13, Miguel 8, San Pascual 6, Castillo 2, Baldelovar 1, Consuelo 1, Luna (L), Nasol (L)
UE (0) – Camposano 15, Ortega 8, Alba 7, Lelic 3, Aljas 2, Inoferio 2, Espaldon 0, Imperial 0, Magdaong 0, Ernacio (L)