University of the Philippines hopes to reignite the old form that installed the Lady Maroons as title favorites against National University at 4 p.m. today (Wednesday) in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Ateneo, meanwhile, stakes its hold on the top spot against Adamson University in the 2 p.m. curtain raiser.
After an opening weekend defeat, the Lady Eagles soared to four consecutive victories to seize the solo lead.
With its ace scorer Tots Carlos having an off-day, UP crashed out of the top four after dropping a 21-25, 15-25, 26-28 decision to Katipunan rival Ateneo last Sunday.
“We tried, but things did not happen as planned. You could see we did not play our game. We lost focus, we were not in the game. Our minds were somewhere else. I think the result today told us many things,” said coach Godfrey Okumu, whose Lady Maroons currently sit in fifth place with a 3-2 record.
“The only thing I can say as a coach, we don’t take any team for granted. I hoped that we would have fought the same way we fought against La Salle, but the fight wasn’t there in us today. So, I still believe we have a strong team,” he added.
Whether it will be a surging Lady Eagles or the struggling Lady Bulldogs, Okumu simply wants his troops to play at a higher level in every match.
“As I said, everybody wants to beat UP. I mean, after two off-season championships and the way we are playing, I think everybody wants to have the best out of us,” said Okumu.
A win will definitely boost the Lady Maroons’ morale as the elimination round reaches the halfway mark.
Despite its 1-4 record, NU has showed promise with its youth movement led by Princess Robles and Ivy Lacsina, while playing without pressure despite losing rookie setter Joyme Cagande to a season-ending knee injury.
Playmaker Deanna Wong, who delivered the match-clinching drop shot against UP, has been the link that connects Ateneo together.
Coach Oliver Almadro knows that Wong still has a bag of tricks to get the Lady Eagles better.
“I know Deanna can do better than that. Hindi siya magiging Best Setter for nothing. I’m really pushing her to be the Best Setter that she is and iyon naman ang meron,” said Almadro.
“Most of the time kasi players tend to be frustrated because they cannot do what they want to do. So I’m telling her to be patient—darating iyan, basta keep pushing yourself, don’t put a limit to yourselves. Maa-achieve mo ang gusto mong ma-achieve, and luckily—and gladly—Deanna responded today (against the Lady Maroons),” he added.
The Lady Falcons, tied with the Lady Bulldogs at 1-4, are expected to give their foes a good fight. Adamson University split its two matches under new coach Onyok Getigan—a straight set romp over NU and a five-setter loss to Far Eastern University.
In the men’s division, titleholder NU plays winless UP at 10 a.m., while Ateneo and Adamson University break their tie in third place at 8 a.m.