After handing out upsets throughout the season, the University of the Philippines Maroons nearly fell prey to an upset themselves.
But UP recovered just in time to dispel the University of the East Red Warriors in five sets 25-21, 25-27, 25-19, 20-25, 15-12 in the UAAP Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Maroons started out strong, feeding off UE’s mis-receptions and burying the Warriors in the first set. UP again had control of the second frame, until the UE blocking and digging tightened up. Down 17-19, UE continuously got blocks and errors off the Maroons until they led 21-19. UP eventually forced a tie down the stretch, but UE’s Edward Camposano and Vince Abrot powered their squad through the prolonged deuce. UE took their first set win of the season.
Both squads then followed with decisive wins. UP dominated the third frame, while UE used a late block party in the fourth frame to break away from a 20-all tie, forcing a fifth set.
Leading 10-6, UP relaxed and allowed the Warriors to rally and trim the lead down to one, 10-9. Limiting the errors that had cost them their cushy lead, UP relied on Alfred Vabuena and Wendel Miguel down the stretch. The pair answered UE’s tandem of Abrot and Camposano, allowing UP to escape with a close win.
In just his second start of the season, team captain Valbuena tallied 23 points, while Miguel added 19. Rookie Mark Millete added 13 markers.
UP were out-spiked and out-blocked, but UE’ 36 unforced errors spelled the difference in the early sets.
“Siguro nagkaroon lang ng problema sa kumpiyansa ‘yung mga bata. Talagang mataas ang confidence namin heading into the game kaya noong nadikitan na, bigla na lang bumaba,” said UP head coach Rod Palmero on his team’s lackluster performance compared to previous matches.
Sophomore team captain Camposano led the Warriors with 26 points, while fellow sophomore Abrot added 20.
UP finished their first round in a tight race for the fourth seed at 4-3. UE are still winless in seven matches.
UP (3) – Valbuena 23, Miguel 19, Millete 13, San Pascual 9, Raymundo 5, Acuna 3, Consuelo 1, San Pedro 1, Luna 0, Nasol (L)
UE (2) – Camposano 26, Abrot 20, Adviento 10, Ortega 8, Alba 7, Gopio 4, Magdaong 4, Saguin 0, Imperial 0, Inoferio (L)