UP Lady Maroons show grit, flaws in tough fight against Ateneo
MANILA, Philippines - There was no sign of intimidation in the rookies as they faced the two-time defending champions. The heart was there. Their desire was unquestionable.
But the battle of Katipunan was still clinched by the Lady Eagles. Good news is, the season is long from over.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the UP community on Valentine’s Day as the rookie-laden University of the Philippines Lady Maroons bowed down to the Ateneo De Manila Lady Eagles in their first face-off on Sunday, February 14 by the scores 25-19, 25-21, 25-21.
Ateneo’s victory came in straight sets but it was not easy win. Even Ateneo superstar Alyssa Valdez admits so.
“Grabe. Ang tatapang ng mga bata ng UP.”
(The young UP team is brave.)
The Lady Maroons gave Ateneo a good fight after retaliating against their prolific offense, winning long rallies, and coming close to almost winning a set.
Rookie Diana Carlos stepped up as she led the scoring for the Diliman-based squad with 16 points.
UP’s improvement hasn’t come overnight, as evidenced in their season-opening victory over University of the East before folding to last year's runner-up De La Salle University.
They also proved their worth in the pre-season as they bagged the bronze medal in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference December last year.
Given this, UP is left to ponder what they could have done differently to pull off the upset.
Too many errors
The attacking provided by rookies Isa Molde, Marian Buitre, and Carlos, was a key factor. But defense was an issue, especially when it came to blocking.
“We were really slow when it comes to blocking. We were like ghosts just watching things happen,” Coach Jerry Yee said in Filipino.
But the bigger issue that wasted their points down the drain was their slew of errors.
A total of 23 attack and service errors combined destroyed UP, particularly in the third set and Ateneo immediately preyed on it.
The Lady Maroons completely collapsed in the deciding canto.
No strong ending
The Lady Eagles knew the game was theirs come the third set. The girls of Coach Jerry Yee seemed to have given up.
“Sabi ni coach okay naman yung first and second set. Nung third set, biglang bumaba yung energy namin,” said topscorer Carlos.
(Our first and second set were okay according to coach. But our energy died down during the third set.)
Still, the freshman refused to give up.
“Naisip ko lang na kaya parin namin ‘to,” she said.
(I thought we can still do it.)
Carlos’ 16 points came off 13 kills and 3 blocks. But there are 6 players on the court. She cannot win that set alone.
“Hindi na kami nag usap-usap. Na frustrate na ‘yung team.”
(We didn’t talk anymore. The team started to be frustrated.)
Absence of key players
One more setback the Lady Maroons had to face was the absence of some key players on the floor. Another rookie Justine Dorog wasn’t able to play due to a minor strain in the shoulder.
The 5-foot-4 outside hitter has been a key offensive weapon for UP in the past games.
“Siguro hindi pa nakaka adjust yung bata from high school. We have to play without key players. Gano’n talaga,” said Yee.
(Maybe the kid hasn’t adjusted from high school yet. But we have to play without key players.)
Team Captain Kathy Bersola’s playing time was also noticeably short. According to Yee, Bersola hasn’t completely adjusted to her game yet after returning from injury last season.
Despite all the things that are yet to be improved, Coach Jerry Yee remains optimistic.
“We do whatever we can to compensate to the team’s loopholes.” – Rappler.com