UP still hopeful despite slim Final Four chance
University of the Philippines’ chance for the last Final Four spot is as precarious as it can get that it can only be described as “mathematical.”
The Lady Maroons’ 5-8 record places them in the sixth spot of the standings and will need the other teams, especially current fourth seed National University, to lose all of its remaining games to get a crack at the semifinals.
That tiny chance of getting a ticket to big dance of the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament, however, doesn’t deter the Lady Maroons’ spirit one bit.
And on Saturday, the Lady Maroons showed that those backed into a corner have only one option and that is to fight and fight hard.
UP stunned Final Four-bound Ateneo in straight sets, 28-26, 25-23, 26-24, showing the league that the fourth spot is still essentially up for grabs.
“We just want to enjoy the game and finish strong,” said UP captain Diana Carlos in Filipino Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena. “Lord gave us a chance to we will grab this opportunity, and until we have this chance we will grab it no matter what.”
The Lady Maroons were down, 19-14, in the third set, but UP had other plans and was hell-bent on finishing the match strong and early.
UP tied the third set at 24 after Marist Layug stopped Jhoana Maraguinot at the top.
Then, as if it was the ultimate symbol of Ateneo’s collapse, Ponggay Gaston and Kat Tolentino weren’t able to communicate properly on who will get the ball over back to UP’s side and lunged simultaneously for a reception that allowed UP to score off the error.
With UP leading 25-24, Carlos then took it upon herself to deliver the final blow on a booming crosscourt kill that no one in blue ever attempted to receive.
“Part of finishing strong is the confidence of pushing ourselves further than what we can achieve,” said Carlos who had 22 points to lead the Lady Maroons. “To finish strong has been coach’s [Godfrey Okumu] motto.”
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