PVL and PSL champion University of the Philippines needed to dig deep to start their UAAP Season 81 campaign. The Lady Maroons made just enough clutch plays to stave off the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-12, 22-25, 23-25, 25-18, 15-12, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Maroons dominated the first set, rattling the Lady Warriors’ defense with a balanced attack. The next three frames turned close after strong UP starts.
UE battled out of an 11-all tie in the second set and slowly built a 24-19 cushion. The Lady Maroons retaliated, grabbing a 19-13 third set advantage, before UE made their run. With UP giving away errors, the Lady Warriors crawled back with help from Judith Abil kills. At 23-all, UE’s Yeye Gabarda punched in a quick hit, before UP’s Marist Layug missed on her attempt to give the Lady Warriors the 2-1 sets lead.
UE nearly produced another comeback in the fourth frame, trimming a 10-1 UP lead down to three, 16-13. Fourth-year winger Justine Dorog then propelled the Lady Maroons, smartly finding gaps to give UP an insurmountable 21-14 gap.
The decider was a tight affair, with UP gaining an early 6-4 lead after Tots Carlos and Isa Molde converted thunderous spikes. Carlos then struck again, capping off a transition combination play to extend UP’s lead to three, 10-7. Carlos, Molde, and Dorog kept UP ahead in the final stretch, conspiring fo four of UP’s last five points.
Second-year UP head coach Godfrey Okumu lauded his team’s perseverance in a back-and-forth affair.
PVL Collegiate Conference MVP Isa Molde topped all scorers with 23 points to go with 10 excellent receptions. PSL Collegiate Grand Slam MVP Tots Carlos managed 17 markers.
Graduating open hitter Judith Abil led the Lady Warriors with 20 points. Season 80 Best Digger and Best Receiver Kath Arado piled up 32 digs and 18 excellent receptions.
UP (1-0) will try for back-to-back wins when they face the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (0-0) on Wednesday. On the other hand, UE (0-1) will face the National University Lady Bulldogs (0-0) on Saturday. Both matches will be played at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
UP (3) – Molde 23, Carlos 17, Dorog 12, Layug 9, Bernardo 5, Ramos 4, Gannaban 3, Estrañero 2, Sotomil 0, Altomea (L), Bautista (L)
UE (2) – Abil 20, Mendrez 8, Rodriguez 7, Baliton 5, Olarve 4, Bendong 3, Alcayde 2, Gabarda 2, Calavana 0, Manabat 0, Arado (L)