Molde's absence puts UP in tougher Final Four battle
MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) may have prevailed in one game without stalwart Isa Molde, but it did not work the same way against preseason rival Far Eastern University (FEU).
The stinging four-set loss on Saturday, April 6 meant that the Lady Maroons are under the most pressure to crash into the Final Four picture of the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.
Although Molde – who is suffering from a left ankle injury – only played limited minutes and did not play her usual end-to-end game, UP head coach Godfrey Okumu thinks the problem proved to be more than just that.
"I believed with the absence of Isa in receiving, I think that we are a man short so we will really need to have work on that, but we were not composed when we started even if Isa was there," said Okumu.
The Lady Maroons fell out of the top 4 anew with a 6-5 record behind Ateneo (9-1), La Salle (7-3), University of Santo Tomas (7-4) and FEU (7-4).
According to Molde, there is no definite time frame on when she can play all-out again as the coaches are still waiting for clearance from the physical therapists.
But she's optimistic that she can come back soon and sees the team's loss to FEU as a wakeup call.
"Siguro kasi laging sinasabi nila coach na ang mga talo is a learning experience siguro nga doon namin malalaman namin kung saan pa ang kaya naming gawin and siguro ano nga wakeup call na rin para sa amin," said Molde.
(Coach always says that losses are learning experience and this is where we can find out what we still have to work on and this is like a wakeup call for us.)
Despite UP's injury woes, Okumu credited FEU for an outstanding performance.
"It is just today the opponents play better, they talk, you can see their serving very hard and we were not that vigilant in passing. Probably they wanted to win more than we wanted to win," the two-year coach said.
To keep their Final Four hopes alive, UP must go for a crucial win against fellow contender UST on Wednesday, April 10 at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Okumu believes that UP must again go back to their strengths – defense, serving and spiking – which weren't in full display against FEU. – Wilmyn Migguel See/Rappler.com