UNIVERSITY of the Philippines may have lost the grueling two-hour-26-minute-battle, 27-25, 21-25, 25-22, 20-25, 15-12, to FEU on Sunday at the MOA Arena, but the young Lady Maroons team have won the war for respect, at least in the eyes of Lady Tamaraws coach Shaq delos Santos in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament.
Delos Santos only had good words for the rookie-laden UP squad after it showed grit in a bid to bring down the most successful UAAP women’s volleyball team.
“Bilib ako sa fighting spirit nila, never nag-give up talaga” he said. “One-hundred percent binibigay nila kasi gusto nila maipanalo ang game kaya ang ganda ng game.”
After trailing by five, 6-1, at the start of the fifth set, UP refused to fold and even threatened within two, 8-10, prompting delos Santos to call a timeout.
The Lady Tamaraws were still under threat, 12-13, when delos Santos burned his final timeout. Fortunately for FEU, skipper Mary Palma and Toni Basas answered the call of their coach to step up and put the wraps on the five-set victory.
“(Napabilib nila ako) sa paghandle ng pressure, every set hindi talaga nag-give up, kahit alam nilang lamang kami nahahabol nila kami, nakukuha nila ang momentum, kahit mga bata sila ang bright ng future nila,” said delos Santos.
UP skipper Kathy Bersola led the team with 18 points, but rookies Isa Molde, Diana Carlos and Justine Dorog played beyond their age in contributing 17, 15 and 11 markers, respectively.
With the Lady Maroons’ performance, delos Santos said he will be very wary of UP come the second round.
“Expected ko na papahirapan nila kami sa second round,” he said. “Mas ibang labanan na sa second round kasi mas papahirapan nila kami. Nakita na rin ang bawat isa sa laro kaya dapat double time sa focus and mag-improve not only sa skills but sa mental (toughness).”
FEU has two more games remaining in the first round, against Adamson on February 24 and against NU on February 28.