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Looking at UP’s win and that collapse by UST in UAAP Women’s Volleyball
by rick olivares
The five-set loss by the UST Tigresses to the UP Lady Maroons after leading two sets to one characterizes their season of inconsistency.
They looked great in the first set with their net defense and their dynamic attack. On defense, UP’s Nicole Tiamzon was held to one point in the first set. On offense, Alex Cabanos, was making all the right decisions in her sets while killing UP on defense with her serves. If you watch her serves, they have this nasty way of curving away forcing the defense to shift from a set position to a moving one that causes havoc on the reception. The Tigresses notched the first set, 25-11.
In the second set, they committed two quick unforced errors – the first where Mela Tunay pushed back a strong serve that Pam Lastimosa didn’t expect and it dropped for a point for UP; and the second, where Marivic Meneses hammered a spike out of bounds even when no one challenged her at the net.
They quickly made up the deficit and raced to an 8-4 lead after a Tunay service ace. Unlike in the first set where the Lady Maroons looked lost, in the second set, they slowly found their groove.
A particular series of plays foreshadowed the eventually collapse.
After a quick play where Meneses put in a point to give UST a 12-10 lead, UP misplayed the reception and UST was able to get the ball back with Cabanos setting up EJ Laure. Laure was blocked yet the ball was fed back to her. Only this time, she came up short and misplayed the ball; 12-11 for UST. While this is normal because you want your hitter to redeem herself, I felt that this showed EJ’s rawness as terrific as she is for a rookie. And like the rest of her team, it also betrayed her inconsistency.
Then UP setter Jewel Lai served up three consecutive aces on poor receptions by UST to grab the lead at 12-14. Then Meneses scored on a block point against Angeli Araneta after which she stared down her opposite number from UP.
Seeking to regain the momentum, it was unfortunate that Cabanos hit into a service error. UP slowly pulled away with Tiamzon finally coming alive in the 25-20 match equalizer.
In the third set, UST, serving once more from the eastern side of the San Juan Arena once more found their focus and their game as they looked to break UP’s spirit. However their focus wavered and they lapsed into some errors. Nevertheless, they took the third set, 25-16.
In the fourth period, the collapse could be defined by two incidents:
At one point, Cabanos, who had been playing so well, had a brain freeze as she set up Laure on six consecutive possessions. Laure scored on the first, had a net block on her second, garnered a point off a check ball then was blocked three consecutive times each for a point for the Lady Maroons. After that third consecutive blocked point for UP, the score was 19-14. Laure (she would score only one more point the rest of the way and that was in the fifth set to cut UP’s lead, 6-3) went out for Cherry Rondina who made a brief appearance at the end of the second set.
Around the same time, Pamela Lastimosa, Meneses, and Tunay were on the bench. Tunay returned before the three consecutive blocks although she was in the back row. UP managed to concentrate their net defense on Laure and it was costly. The Lady Maroons took the fourth set, 25-18, to set up the fifth set with the momentum on their side. UP would never fall behind again in the match.
Tiamzon scored on a drop shot then a play later, Angeli Araneta emphatically rejected Meneses and she repaid the stare down. The Lady Maroons looked like they were not going to give this match up. UST didn’t help as they committed six errors in this set as they fell 15-11.
In as much as UST was inconsistent, credit must be given to UP as Tiamzon got a lot of help from Araneta (both finished with 15 points) and Vina Alinas (11 points) and the heads up play of Marian Buitre, Chester Ong, and Lai. They dealt with their early reception issues and played better defense as the game wore on.
UP moved up to third place with a 5-7 record while UST looked like they could fall out of the playoff picture as they fell to 5-8 with one match to play against winless UE. However, UP still has two more matches to play against 4-8 FEU and 6-6 NU.