By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WHILE an appearance in the Final Four in Season 81 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines is still a proposition that remains to be seen, the University of the East Lady Warriors are undeterred by it, believing that there is still much to fight for in the ongoing tournament.
Notched just their second win of the season on Wednesday with a four-sets victory over the National University Lady Bulldogs, 25-16, 25-18, 24-26 and 25-16, the Lady Warriors (2-6) look to build on it moving forward so as not to make this year another one that has them bottom-scraping.
“We really needed this win especially for our graduating players. I think we have six or seven players graduating. While we might not reach the Final Four at least we could do something about our ranking and not end up at the bottom anew which had been the case in the previous seasons,” said UE coach Karl Dimaculangan after their victory over NU.
Against the Lady Bulldogs, UE largely relied on the efforts of its veterans to put away a young but resilient NU squad.
The Lady Warriors took the first two sets of the contest convincingly before bogging down at the end of the third set.
But in the fourth set it bounced back to complete the win that stopped for them a four-game losing streak and thrust the team to a good start in the second round of the tournament.
Meanne Mendrez led the way for UE with 19 points followed by Judith Abil with 13 and Seth Rodriguez 12.
Setter Lai Bendong had seven markers to go along with 38 excellent sets.
The UE players said a win at the start of the second round was something they were angling for after a rough first round that saw them win a solitary game and had a number of near misses on victories.
“It was important for us to have a good start in the second round because in the first round our morale really went down. So we talked among ourselves that we should take this as a new start for us. It’s back to zero and we must not think so much of what happened in the first round,” said senior Mendrez.
She was echoed by fellow veteran Abil, saying “We really wanted to get this win for our confidence in our next games. This is our last year and we want to leave something good to the UE volleyball program and the community.”
Moving forward, Mr. Dimaculangan said his team still needs to improve on certain aspects of the game, including being “go-getters,” delivering when they are in a position that calls for them to deliver.
But the young coach was quick to say that they will continue to fight and give their institution an effort to be proud of and cheer about.
“To win as many games as we can, that’s our goal for the remainder of the season. And lift our ranking, of course,” Mr. Dimaculangan said.
Meanwhile, games this weekend will see the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (4-3) battle the Adamson Lady Falcons on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City while at 4 p.m. it will be the De La Salle Lady Spikers (5-2) against the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (4-3).
UAAP STREETDANCE COMPETITION
In separate news, the UAAP streetdance competition happens on Saturday, March 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion FEU Dance Company Street Alliance looks to make it back-to-back titles against a field composed of the La Salle Dance Company — Street, UP Streetdance, Adamson Cast, NU Underdawgz, Company of Ateneo Dancers, UST Prime, and the UE Street Warriors.
This year’s competition will also feature the debut of the first UAAP-JBL Freestyle Showdown, where each school’s chosen representative engages one another in a dance showdown.
The UAAP streetdance competition will be shown live over S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD, and via livestream on iWant Sports and ABS-CBN Sports’ Website starting at 2 p.m.
By Michael Angelo S. Murillo