MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines nailed its first major volley championship in a long, long while in style.
After a roller-coaster Game 2, the Lady Maroons hacked out an improbable 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 15-13 victory over a stunned Far Eastern U side to rule the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference before a huge crowd at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan on Wedenesday, September 12.
With the chance of bagging the crown slowly slipping away from their fingers, the Lady Maroons put one big stand rarely seen from a crew playing its first championship series.
The Lady Maroons blew a 2-0 set lead and an 8-0 bulge in the 3rd set, then later rallied from a 6-point deficit in the decider to complete a sweep of the best-of-three finals series.
Isa Molde fired away bombs that the Lady Tams had failed to stop, including two that anchored their incredible comeback to within, 12-13, after trailing by as many as 7-13 deficit in the 5th set.
The Lady Maroons forced a tie on a block off Lycha Ebon then Molde rammed in another vicious kill to put the team within championship point.
In a bizarre ending, skipper Ma. Arielle Estranero clinched it for the Diliman-based school with hardly an effort as her serve sailed over the net and dropped into the middle of FEU’s court with no Lady Tam – visibly stunned by their rivals’ fightback – putting an effort to receive it.
That triggered a frenzied celebration on UP’s court with Estranero dropping to the floor and the rest whooping it up as the Lady Maroons claimed their first volley championship in 36 long years.
UP last won a volley title in the UAAP in 1982.
While the victory – and the championship – proved sweeter the second time around for UP, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Lady Tams, who had looked forward to forcing a decider after bouncing from two sets down despite playing without injured ace player Celine Domingo.
“Sobrang happy, parang UAAP na din,” said Molde, who had earlier also bested the best in the fold by bagging the MVP crown after norming 15.14 points in the elims while 30.25 percent success rate in attacks ad 0.48 service ace per set.
(I'm so happy because it also felt like winning in the UAAP.)
But it was her finals performance that made her stand out from the rest.
“Hindi lang naman ako but all of us. We raised the level of our respective games,” said Molde, who fired 16 points in leading the team to a come-from-behind 14-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-18, 15-5 victory in Game 1 last Sunday.
(It wasn't just me. Everyone in the team raised the level of ur respective games.)
Adamson, meanwhile, took third place honors as it subdued UST, 15-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19.
The Tigresses actually won Game 1, 25-20, 27-29, 13-25, 25-19, 17-15, but with the Lady Maroons winning the championship via sweep, the Lady Falcons grabbed third place with a higher quotient, 4-2, after two games.
National U used a strong start and a stronger finish as it repeated over UST, 25-21, 25-18, 25-14, to clinch the men’s crown via sweep.
Bryan Bagunas blasted in 18 kills and finished with 20 points, powering the Bulldogs to a sweep of their best-of-three series and a breakthrough PVL crown that came just four months after nailing the UAAP diadem.
Unlike in Game 1 where NU needed to overcome an opening set defeat to post a 21-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-17 victory, the Bulldogs imposed their will early, sustained their charge in the second frame before dominating the Tigers in the third to complete the rout.
FEU clinched third place, also via sweep, with a 25-21, 17-25, 30-28, 25-23 victory over Adamson U.
Molde bagged the conference’s women’s MVP trophy after norming 15.14 points in the elims with a 30.25 percent success rate in attacks ad 0.48 service ace per set.
The fourth year Lady Maroon also played superb floor defense with 3.96 digs per set while powering UP to a breakthrough Finals appearance and eventually the first-ever championship.
Molde also bagged the 1st Best Outside Spiker award while teammate Aie Gannaban took the 2nd Best Middle Blocker honors. Other awardees were Adamson’s Bernadette Flora (2nd Best Outside Spiker) and teammates Eli Soyud (Best Opposite Spiker), MJ Igao (Best Setter), Adamson’s Tonnie Rose Ponce (Best Libero) and FEU’s Celine Domingo (1st Best Middle Blocker).
Paolo Pablico shared centerstage as the Adamson U skipper took the MVP plum in the men’s side after averaging 15.1 points with 41.34 percent success rate in attacks in the elims.
Pablico, who also bagged the 2nd Best Outside Spiker trophy, placed third in the scoring department and eighth in the attacking percentage.
Other awardees were Bagunas (1st Best Outside Spiker), who was also named the Finals MVP; John Paul Bugaoan of FEU (1st Best Blocker), UST’s Jayvee Sumagaysay (2nd Best Blocker); UST’s Joshua Umandal (Best Opposite Spiker); Timothy Tajanlangit (Best Setter), and Ricky Marcos of NU (Best Libero). – Rappler.com