Lady Maroons down Oragons, stay in race

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Shola Alvarez (19) of Iriga challenges UP’s blockers Mae Basarte (2) and Katherine Bersola (8) during their Shakey’s V-League encounter. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Shola Alvarez (19) of Iriga challenges UP’s blockers Mae Basarte (2) and Katherine Bersola (8) during their Shakey’s V-League encounter. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

University of the Philippines came back strong from a five-set setback the last time out, beating Team Iriga, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19, on Monday to wheel back into contention for a playoff for the last semifinal berth in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

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The Lady Maroons dominated the first set, fought back from an early deficit in the second before pouncing on the Lady Oragons’ sloppy defense and floor coverage in the third to complete the 62-minute victory.

Though it was only UP’s second victory against three losses, it kept the Lady Maroons in the hunt for a playoff for the last Final Four berth in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.

“Coach told us to play with confidence which we just did,” said Diana Carlos, the Pampanga ace spiker whose 13-point performance, including 10 attack points, netted her the best player of the game honors.

The win also primed up the Diliman-based squad for its crucial match with National U in the penultimate elims playdate of the tournament backed by Mikasa and Accel on Saturday.

“We need to prepare every time we go up against a fellow UAAP team,” said UP coach Jerry Yee. “It will also serve as a gauge as to where we are now as far as the school program is concerned.”

The Lady Maroons overwhelmed the Lady Oragons in spikes, 35-25, and had more blocks, 5-3. But the Bicol-based team produced nine aces as UP struggled with its reception in the second set of the match aired live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23.

Grazielle Bombita fired 11 hits while Shola Alvarez added nine markers and Karen Levina and Shallane Eniong each had six points for the also-ran Iriga, which fell to 1-5.

In the Spikers’ Turf, Cignal fought back in a marathon second set setback and a meltdown in the fourth with a gritty stand in the decider, hacking out a thrilling 25-13, 34-36, 25-15, 17-25, 19-17 decision over Instituto Estetico Manila to wrest the solo lead with four straight wins.

The HD Spikers bucked the power-hitting troika of Greg Dolor, Jeffrey Jimenez and Edan Canlas and made the hits that mattered most to escape with the victory in their two-hour, two-minute encounter.

While Cignal kept its win run, IEM’s own streak ended at three.

Ysrael Marasigan fired 16 hits and Edmar Bonono added 11 markers for Cignal, which prevailed despite ramming in less spikes, 53-58, emerging a bit better than the Volley Masters in blocks, 11-10, and aces, 3-2.

Dolor made 21 hits while jimenez and Canlas had 18 and 11 hits apiece for IEM.

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