University of the Philippines battled back from a set down and a big deficit in the second frame and went on to hack out a 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 victory over Philippine Navy to set in motion its bid in the Shakey’s V-League Season 12-Reinforced Conference at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
The Lady Maroons leaned on their solid blocking to offset the Lady Sailors’ power game, coming through with an impressive 13-block performance, including four from skipper Katherine Bersola and three from Sheena Chopitea, to fashion out the come-from-behind win in the opener of the season-ending conference of the league where it all started.
The Lady Sailors jumped the gun on their Diliman-based rivals in the opener and in the second set but blew a 21-15 lead as the Lady Maroons settled down with their reception and foiled a number of Navy attacks while hammering in kills of their own behind setter Jewel Lai.
The Lady Maroons produced 49 attack points, six less than the Lady Sailors but more than made up for the slack with their superb blocking while displaying grace under pressure in down-to-the-wire finishes in the last three sets of the one-hour, 47-minute match.
Isabel Molde fired 17 hits, Anne Tiamzon put in a 14-hit job while Marian Buitre added 10 points for UP, which also drew a combined 25-hit output from Bersola, Chopitea, Diana Carlos, Justine Dorog and Rose Cailing.
It was a sorry setback for the Lady Sailors, who got 15 hits from Hezzymie Acuna and a pair of 13 pointers from Pau Soriano and Lilet Mabbayad but cracked at endgame in the last three sets.
Meanwhile, a pair of explosive games marks the second playdate of the tournament sponsored by Shakey’s with PLDT Home Ultera hoping to buck the absence of ace hitter Alyssa Valdez as it faces Philippine Coast Guard at 12:45 pm
Army, on the other hand, clashes with newcomer Kia Forte at 3 pm with both matches to be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11 for a big weekly treat by the league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Valdez will not be able to see action owing to her stint in the UAAP beach volley competition but coach Roger Gorayeb remain upbeat of their chances against the Lady Dolphins what with the likes of last year’s Conference and Finals MVP Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones, top setter Rubie de Leon, Jem Ferrer, Jannine Marciano, Cha Soriano, Gata Pantone and Suzanne Roces bannering the squad.
The Ultra Fast Lady Spikers will be led again by Collegiate Conference and UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez, last year’s Conference and Finals MVP Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, NCAA MVP Gretchel Soltones, Rubie de Leon, Jem Ferrer, Jannine Marciano, Cha Soriano, Gata Pantone and Suzanne Roces.
The Lady Troopers, meanwhile, hope to showcase their vaunted offensive game anchored on Rachel Anne Daquis, Jovelyn Gonzaga, Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Abi Maraño with support to come from Mary Jean Balse, Tina Salak and Honey Royse Tubino.
But the Kia Forte side is out to spring a surprise right on its maiden appearance with Angelie Tabaquero, Wenneth Eulalio, Chie Saet and Fil-Am Alexa Micek tipped to lead their charge.
Games today (Sunday)
12:45 pm – Coast Guard vs PLDT
3 pm – Kia Forte vs Army