ANTIPOLO CITY — University of the Philippines, once again, stunned De La Salle but this time in straight sets, 25-16, 26-24, 25-19, to complete an unusual elimination-round sweep of the defending champion on Sunday in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the Ynares Sports Center here.
Isa Molde and Tots Carlos led the charge for the Lady Maroons to become the first team to sweep La Salle in the elimination round since Ateneo de Manila swept its rival in Season 79 elims.
As the Lady Maroons asserted their first round mastery over the Lady Spikers, UP forced a quadruple tie from the second to fifth places between La Salle, Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas holding identical 5-3 win-loss records behind league leader Ateneo (7-1).
Carlos unloaded 13 points, all coming from attacks, including eight digs and five excellent receptions, while Molde nailed the game-winning hit that stunned La Salle anew after an hour and 29-minute battle finishing with 11 points off eight attacks, a pair of service aces and a block.
UP forced a quadruple tie from the second to fifth places between La Salle, Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas holding identical 5-3 win-loss records behind league leader Ateneo (7-1), which it battles on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UP head coach Godfrey Okumu, who promised that his wards will bring out their best form in the second round, believed that the best is yet to come after another upset on La Salle.
“Is this the peak of UP? No. I still feel there's more to come,” Okumu said. “We still can play better. It's just a matter of time. But again it was a good game. It's our lucky day today. It's our day today.“
UP dominated the opening set but needed to fight back from trailing both in the second and third sets.
The Lady Maroons erased a 12-17 second set deficit taking advantage of the Lady Spikers miscues to tie it to 19-all and figured in a toe-to-toe encounter that reached deuce, 24-all, before Jolina Dela Cruz’s service error and Jessma Ramos’s drop ball gave UP a two-set lead.
The Diliman-based team also started slow in the third with a 2-6 disadvantage before scoring eight of the next nine points for a 10-7 turnaround. La Salle kept UP within striking distance and held a precarious 17-16 lead but unforced errors sparked the Lady Maroons’ 7-1 run as Marist Layug nailed a hit for a 23-18 spread before a crucial service error from Lourdes Clemente and Molde’s game-winning spike completed another upset.
La Salle played its most error-filled game in the season so far with 37 miscues, while skipper Desiree Cheng, who is back from her usual playing time after being restricted due to shoulder injury late in the first round, was the lone double digits scorer with 11 points in a losing effort.
It was also the first time that the Lady Spikers had three losses since Season 79. La Salle tries to bounce back against UST on Sunday also at the MOA Arena.