UNIVERSITY of the Philippines skipper Tots Carlos and graduating setter Ayel Estrañero are glad that the real Lady Maroons finally showed up to break out from a two-game skid and end the first round of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on a high note.
After disappointing showings in back-to-back losses to league leader Ateneo and rookie-laden National University, the Lady Maroons regained their winning ways with a 25-27, 25-14, 25-12, 25-21 victory over Adamson Lady Falcons on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Carlos knows that they still lack finishing touches, which was evident in their first round loss to Adamson, but she’s happy that they recovered and got over the hump, flaunting their will to win in the succeeding sets.
“I'm so happy kasi after all our struggles the past games, nakapag-laro kami ulit ng maayos,” said the team captain, who dropped 14 points including 26 digs. “Yung finishing namin, hindi pa ganoon kapulido, pero if gusto naman talaga namin, nakukuha naman namin.”
Estrañero admitted that they were pressured in their past two losses, coming off a big win over De La Salle, the momentum of which they failed to sustain
“It's really a big thing, especially na more on seniors nga kami sa loob. So much is really expected from us. And we can't just say na there's so much pressure,” said the setter, who made 28 excellent sets, 11 digs and four hits. “We really have to push each other to play well. It's very evident that we played together, and we just really enjoyed the game.”
UP coach Godfrey Okumu had coaches-only meeting, while the Lady Maroons had players-only talk in their Wednesday’sloss to the Lady Bulldogs, where they squandered a 14-10 lead in the fifth set.
“It was just actually re-assessing ourselves, re-assessing how we play and what do we do best and what are still lacking, which part we can improve more that will help us win games,” Estrañero said.
“Coming from two losses, it was a really big struggle, but no one actually thought of giving up,” she added. “Everyone was still going to training every day, still motivated, working hard every day, showing up in training, giving their all, and even trying to work outside training time just so we can keep the team together.“
Now that UP is back on the winning track with an improved 4-3 win-loss record at joint fourth place with Far Eastern University, the graduating setter believes that their confidence is back heading into the more crucial second round that starts this Wednesday.
“Moving forward, going to the second round, malaking confidence booster siya for the team,” Estrañero said. “It's good to know na kaya talaga namin manalo if we played together and we believe in each and every one.”