In the longest match of the season, the UP Lady Maroons dug deep and moved past a possibly season-ending injury to Kathy Bersola as they eked out an epic 22-25, 25-21, 29-27, 34-32 win over the Adamson Lady Falcons at the MoA Arena.
The Lady Falcons sprung on the Lady Maroons to start the match, building a 7-1 lead. UP nibbled at Adamson’s lead to eventually force a 19-19 deadlock. Adamson veteran Amanda Villanueva pulled her team to a 24-22 tiff with multiple drop balls and well timed blocks. A vicious quick attack from Erika Alkuino sealed the set for the Lady Falcons.
UP team captain Nicole Tiamzon powered the Lady Maroons to an 8-6 lead early in the second set. Focused reception, supreme net control, and multiple misfires from their foes bolstered the Maroon’s lead to 16-10. Adamson fired back behind stellar serving from Mylene Paat, trimming UP’s lead to one, 18-19. UP’s net defense held tight as Adamson crumbled with multiple errors, gjving the set to the Maroons.
UP’s impenetrable blocking carried into the third frame, stopping Adamson’s best attackers and forging a 16-9 lead. Adamson’s spikers found their groove midway through the set, mounting a furious comeback that netted them a brief 21-20 advantage. Both teams struggled to put the game away resulting in a controversial deuce battle. Adamson scored a point that put them at advantage, 26-25, but due to an illegal substitution, the point was stripped and awarded to UP. Adamson bounced back, netting match point at 27-26, but gave up the next three points, handing UP their second set win.
As UP built another early lead at 8-6, Kathy Bersola landed awkwardly on her right knee. UP’s middle blocker was taken out of the game on a stretcher and did not return. According to coach Gerry Yee, Bersola’s injury could possibly be an ACL tear. The loss of their best blocker seemed to light a fire for the Lady Maroons as they steadily fought off a feisty AdU side. UP protected their three-point advantage up until the set was 19-16 when Adamson finally caught up by scoring on three consecutive attacks. Another heated exchange from both sides resulted in an epic deuce, the longest since the UAAP started keeping statistics. Adamson gained more match points than UP but the Lady Maroons ultimately struck the jugular, ending the match off consecutive blocks.
“I was worried na di man lang mapantayan yung intensity nung Ateneo game pero pinakita naman ng mga bata na kaya naman na nila,” said UP coach Gerry Yee.
“Could have been better,” replied Yee when asked for an assessment of his team’s performance in the first round. “Siguro gigil na gigil kami ipakita na iba na kami this year kaya nung latter part na lang ng round kami nakalaro ng maganda but I am happy.”
The win places UP at sixth place with a 3-4 slate while AdU’s 3-3 record ties them with NU and FEU for third place.
UP- Tiamzon 22, Bersola 13, Araneta 12, Ilustre 11, Alinas 10, Lai 3, Ong 2, Estranero (L) 0, Mangulabanan 0, Magtalas 0
AdU- Galanza 24, Paat 19, Villanueva 15, Alkuino 7, Guevara 6, Emnas 1, Cortel (L) 0, Lebumfacil 0, Mohammad 0