BIG GAME. UP star Isa Molde (center) comes up big as the Lady Maroons shock the top-ranked Adamson Lady Falcons. Photo by Mix Gatpandan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Isa Molde broke a two-game slump to power University of the Philippines to the championship round of the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference.
Molde unleashed a brilliant 27-hit performance to lead the Lady Maroons to a stirring 25-19, 29-27, 20-25, 25-20 triumph over top-ranked Adamson in the sudden-death semifinal match at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Sunday, September 2.
The UP star, who struggled with 8 hits in the semis opener and put in a 9-point show in Game 2, struck when the Lady Maroons needed her most, dropping a number of crisp crosscourt hits while adding 4 kill blocks to her outstanding performance.
With Molde on the firing end, the Lady Maroons took the first two frames, outlasting the Lady Falcons in a thrilling, extended second set duel, then bounced back from a third-set defeat with a strong finish in the fourth to complete the fourth-seeded squad’s rise.
“We’re very happy that we got what we wanted,” said Molde.
Far Eastern University likewise pounded out a 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 25-17 decision over University of Santo Tomas to advance to the finals, completing the lower seeded teams’ surge
The Lady Tams leaned on their solid blocking and pounced on the Tigresses’ erratic finish, racking up the last 5 points, including a Kyle Negrito dump and Jerrili Malabanan’s back-to-back kills before moving to the finals on a UST backrow attack that sailed long.
Malabanan finished with 10 points, including 2 aces, as the Tams arranged a best-of-three title showdown with the Lady Maroons starting Sept. 9.
It was a big bounce-back for FEU, which dropped Game 1, 16-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-23, but forced a Game 3 with a 25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-20 victory last Saturday.
The Lady Falcons, who swept the single round elims of the league but dropped a 26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 25-20 decision in Game 1, came out flat a day after forcing a rubber match via a 25-23, 25-19, 25-21 triumph last Saturday.
But they fought back strong in the third to stall the Lady Maroons' sweep bid but blew a 16-15 lead in the fourth with sloppy plays, enabling their rivals to string 4 straight points to gain control at 19-16 capped by Molde’s power hit.
Refusing to give up, Adamson pulled within, 18-19, on an Eli Soyud crosscourt hit but Molde countered with her own kill and UP took 5 of the last 7 points to clinch the set and the match on a Marian Buitre's vicious baseline spike.
In men’s play, UST withstood Adamson’s furious fightback and pulled off a 25-15, 16-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-8 victory to sweep their best-of-three semis series and clinch the first slot in the finals.
But top seed National U bounced back from its series’ opening loss and stopped Far Eastern U, 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, to force a sudden death in their side of the semis duel.
Bryan Bagunas blasted in 30 hits, including 27 attacks, and came through with 15 excellent receptions and six digs while Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura combined for 28 points for the comebacking Bulldogs.
FEU drew 16 points from Redijohn Paler while JP Bugaon finished with 13 markers with the Tams hoping to recover in time for the rubber match on Wednesday.
In contrast, the Tigers kept the momentum of their Game One win, 25-18, 25-22, 16-25, 32-30, to oust the Falcons with Manuel Medina turning in another superb all-around game of 19 points, including 16 kills and two aces, and 29 excellent receptions and five digs.