UNIVERSITY of the Philippines gained a share of the lead in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament with a shock 25-22, 25-21, 25-19 victory on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Maroons joined idle National University at the top of the standings with their third win in as many matches - and their first against La Salle since winning via technicality back in 2008.
Nicole Tiamzon showed the way for State U, which last beat La Salle in 2008 via forfeiture after a member of the Lady Spikers was ruled ineligible by the college league.
Tiamzon finished with 16 points, while Diana Carlos added 13. Marian Buitre chipped in eight, while Isa Molde and Kathy Bersola had six markers apiece.
Head coach Jerry Yee begged off from the post-game interview after his blood pressure rose and assistant coach Rald Ricafort talked to reporters on his behalf.
“Wala si coach (Jerry) baka daw atakihin siya,” said Ricafort, who bared UP’s thorough preparation for La Salle, with Powerpoint presentations featuring assessments on every Lady Spiker.
“Medyo naka-two days kami na nag-discuss (ng game plan) ‘yung discussion na parang lecture talaga,” he added. “Talagang may mga powerpoint pa silang pinresent, every player may sariling assignment kung paano basahin ang La Salle, alam namin na si coach Boc (Benson Bocboc) ay magaling sa stats at sa pag-scout kaya ang bawi namin ay collective effort.”
The spikers from Diliman showed poise and confidence as they raced to match point, 24-19, before an attack error by Ernestine Tiamzon handed the win to UP.
Ricafort also lauded UP’s own Tiamzon after she displayed leadership on the court.
“Ang maganda kay Nicole, isang rally pa lang ang dumaan alam niya na ang next move niya, magaling siyang makining (sa instructions),” he said.
Looking to end a 35-year title drought after former senator Pia Cayetano led UP to a championship in 1982, Ricafort noted that it was a perfect timing for UP that the players have already matured, while La Salle is a rebuilding team after the graduation of Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Mika Esperanza and Carol Cervza.
“Hindi naman sa kayang-kaya pero tingin ko, sumakto lang sa lineups ng parehong teams, pana-panahon,” he said. “Sila ‘yung medyo maraming bata this year tapos kami naman ang medyo paangat after may mga bata last year.”
No La Salle player scored in double figures s Majoy Baron and Kim Dy only had nine points apiece.
La Salle dropped its first game of the season tied with arch rival Ateneo (2-1) at the third spot.