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UP wins first major volleyball title in 36 years, sweeps FEU in PVL Finals

UP celebrates after outlasting FEU in 5 sets to claim the PVL Collegiate Conference championship. INQUIRER PHOTO/ Sherwin Vardeleon

University of the Philippines has ended its long wait for a major volleyball title after sweeping Far Eastern University in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Finals on Wednesday night.

The Lady Maroons, who leaned on conference MVP Isa Molde to breakthrough with their first volleyball championship since winning the UAAP crown in 1982, outlasted the Lady Tamaraws in five sets, 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13, in a dramatic Game 2.

It was a game of comebacks that tested both team’s character and UP coach Godfrey Okumu believed the Lady Maroons were more equipped to withstand pressure-packed moments.

“Once the game was tied at 13-13, I expected something like that to happen,” Okumu said on Estranero’s title-clinching ace after the Lady Tamaraws froze. “They (FEU) were tense. Eventually, we came out stronger mentally. Skill-wise we were match but mentally, we were stronger.”

UP showed great resolve in the fifth set after it overcame a 7-13 deficit. The Lady Maroons never doubted despite seeing the game slip away from them after the Lady Tamaraws turned the tide and seemed well on their way to a stunning win with a commanding lead in the deciding set.

“I just told them to enjoy the game and no pressure. Keep on pushing. I kept on saying, ‘we can end this today, there’s no tomorrow,'” Okumu said.

Molde, who was hailed as conference MVP earlier in the awarding ceremony, put the Lady Maroons at match point before captain Ayel Estrañero sent her team and the UP gallery into a wild celebration with a service ace.

“When I saw the ball actually dropped, it was just overwhelming,” said Estranero, who finished with 28 excellent sets and six points, including four service aces. “We fought until the end.”

The two accounted for six points during an 8-0 blast by the Lady Maroons to end the game.

FEU had nothing to be ashamed of after putting up a brave stand, battling back from two sets down and a 5-13 hole in the third set.

Lycha Ebon led the Lady Tamaraws, who were also the losing finalists in the 80th Season of the UAAP, with 13 points while Jerrili Malabanan and Jeannette Villareal scored 12 and 10 points, respectively.

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