By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

WHILE they are very much in the thick of the fight in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons recognize that they still have to fine-tune their game if they are to make a stronger push for their initial goal of making it to the Final Four.

Holding a 6-4 record, in joint third place with two other teams, UP admits that it can still do better, something it hopes to get accomplished for its remaining four games in the elimination round.

The Lady Maroons boosted their campaign last Wednesday by defeating the University of the East Lady Warriors, but not after being made to work hard and pushed to a deciding fifth set, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 24-26 and 15-11.

It was a win they welcomed even as they said they were still playing below the form where they want to be in.

“The game today was hard. It wasn’t easy. And I have said before nothing comes easy for us and that we have to work hard for every single point. But a win is a win and we’re happy,” said UP coach Godfrey Okumu after their victory over UE.

Marian Buitre stepped up for the Lady Maroons with 19 points and Maris Layug finishing with 14 in the win over the Lady Warriors.

Their efforts compensated for the absence of key cog Isa Molde, who sat out the game as she rested her injured ankle.

“We won but we struggled. So there is really room for improvement,” said senior Buitre.

She was seconded by Tots Carlos, saying “As you could see we still have to correct some things in our game like in our positioning. We can do better.”

Carlos finished the game against UE with 15 points of her own.

For their remaining games, the Lady Maroons will take on the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses, National University Lady Bulldogs and Adamson Lady Falcons.

Mr. Okumu said only their best is required from here on as any slippage could be costly for them.

“All games for us are must-win. That’s the only thing to say. If we want to go to the Final Four we have to win all the way to the end,” said the UP coach.

Meanwhile, UAAP games on Saturday will see UST (6-4) go up against UE (2-8) at 2 p.m. and UP against FEU at 4 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

On Sunday, it will be De La Salle Lady Spikers (7-3) versus Adamson (1-9) at 2 p.m. and the league-leading Ateneo Lady Eagles (9-1) against NU (3-7) at 4 p.m. also at the Big Dome.