UP’s time to shine?
Isa Molde has seen better versions of University of the Philippines’ women’s volleyball team before.
“This isn’t the best UP team,” she said in Filipino, after the Lady Maroons weathered quite a storm before hammering out a 25-12, 22-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-12 victory over University of the East on Saturday at the start of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
“We’re just trying to become a better version of UP,” she added.
The Lady Maroons need a sense of urgency, too. In the offseason, they played like a team rushing to fulfill a potential people saw when Molde and fellow stars Tots Carlos and Justine Dorog joined the squad. They won two offseason titles heading into this UAAP season.
But at the Filoil Flying V Centre Saturday, UP wobbled like an inexperienced squad and trailed after three sets before relying on Molde, Carlos and Dorog to see off scrappy UE.
“There’s no such thing as perfect volleyball,” she said. “We just have to look at things that we’re still missing” and improve on them.
UP head coach Godfrey Okumu has an inkling on what the Lady Maroons need to work on.
“We had many unforced errors and we should correct that,” he said, pointing to the 42 points UP gave UE through unforced errors. “Our defense was up to standard. And when we focus we play well.”
UE had a seven-point edge off unforced errors, yielding 35 to UP. But mostly, the Lady Warriors’ defense was also up to the task, especially in the back row, where UE kept several UP kill attempts in play.
That defense backstopped an offense that was shouldered mostly by springy Judith Abil, who peppered UP with 20 points. In the middle of UE’s defense was skipper Kath Arado who said the Lady Maroons did a good job of trying to keep her out of play.
“I wasn’t receiving any attacks since the first set so I kept trying to find good positions for myself because nothing came my way,” Arado said in Filipino. “I got fired up and I think … UP’s game plan was to really avoid me.”
Arado also summed UE’s newfound confidence despite finishing poorly last season—proof that the Lady Warriors no longer think of themselves as just another easy schedule on their opponents’ calendars.
“We have 13 more games and some additional in the Final Four,” Arado said. “We just didn’t have it in the end; we ran out of gas.”
UE had UP on the ropes in the opening match of Saturday’s doubleheader—Far Eastern University dismantled National U, 22-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-12, in the second game—and the Lady Maroons needed to gut out a strong fourth set to stay alive.
It went back-and-forth at the start of the fifth set, before Jessma Ramos and Molde exchanged hits for a 10-7 lead.
Molde finished with 23 points to lead the Lady Maroons while Carlos and Dorog had 17 points and 12 points, respectively.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.