There were 56 total matches during the double-round eliminations of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament. While each one had an intriguing narrative, there were games that stood out due to significance, rivalry, or stern opposition from both teams.
But there was one match that can be considered a classic due to the way it turned out. Sadly, only one squad can claim victory.
How we chose the best match
The tenacity of each set was a major consideration. This criteria instantly eliminates three-set matches even though the margins were close. Four-set games were dissected but they still don’t beat five-set games. There were 13 matches that went the distance during the preliminaries but the tension in all of them were not equal.
Case in point: the UST Golden Tigresses dominated the Adamson Lady Falcons in the fifth set of their season opener, 15-6. Likewise, the FEU Lady Tamaraws defeated the De La Salle Lady Spikers in five during the last day of eliminations. However, Coach George Pascua’s team was in control of the latter part to seal the victory, 15-8.
We also considered what was at stake leading into the match and the effect that it had after the game. The reaction of the fans who witness the game in the flesh adds bonus points as well.
After weighing in the score lines and the narratives, there were two games that you won’t get tired watching because they exceeded the billing. One game had the edge against the other because of who was playing. But let’s serve the appetizer first before the main course. For that, we would have to reminisce about a game in Antipolo City.
Runner-up: FEU Lady Tamaraws vs. Adamson Lady Falcons – March 24, 2019
It’s rare to see a UAAP game played outside Metro Manila. But these two teams made sure that those in attendance at the Ynares Center will witness great volleyball action.
At that time, the Lady Tamaraws were still in a logjam with La Salle, UST, and the UP Lady Maroons for second place. Meanwhile, the Lady Falcons were reeling with a three-game losing streak after scoring their first win of the season over the NU Lady Bulldogs.
Their first round meeting went the distance. Why not match that for an encore? Thus, both squads fought tooth and nail for the opening set but Adamson eventually won, 32-30. From there, FEU and Adamson clinched sets alternately. The Morayta unit took sets two and four with the same score line, 25-20. In contrast, the San Marcelino crew owned set three, 25-23.
The match would have gone smoothly if not for Lycha Ebon’s injury early in the fifth set. She was stretchered off the court, evidently in pain, before play resumed. Eventually, FEU won the deciding frame, 15-13. That win kept them in the hunt for a twice-to-beat advantage while the loss dropped Adamson to 1-7.
But as pulsating that contest was, it was nothing compared to the first round match between two Final Four hopefuls.
Best match: UP Lady Maroons vs. De La Salle Lady Spikers – March 2, 2019
Coincidentally, UP faced De La Salle in the next match after the aforementioned FEU-Adamson battle. Their second round encounter is nowhere near the drama of the first.
In front of a packed crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, the Lady Spikers clinched set one, 25-21. Errors doomed De La Salle as a net touch violation gave set two to UP, 25-20.
The Lady Spikers unleashed a 6-0 run to take a sizeable 13-8 advantage that they maintained up to the second technical timeout, 16-12. But the Lady Maroons turned the tide with an 11-3 run to lead by four, 23-19. Tin Tiamzon’s off-target spike pulled UP to a set away from victory, 25-21.
De La Salle forced a fifth set when they sparked a 5-0 run from a 15-all tie. The Lady Maroons never recovered as May Luna close the fourth set tally at 25-20.
Both squad locked horns until the count reached 12-12 in the fifth. But UP scored the last three points to bag their third game in four outings. Justine Dorog converted the winning point by pushing ball past CJ Saga and into an open Zone 5.
After the game, supporters of both teams applauded their opponents when they school hymns were played. More importantly, it was La Salle’s first loss in the tournament. It also made the Lady Maroons as one of the legitimate contenders then.
Meanwhile, DLSU lost a three-setter against UST in their succeeding match which raised concern among the team’s supporters. They still crawled their way to the Final Four before suffering elimination against the Golden Tigresses.
With both teams eliminated from title contention in Season 81, they can still take pride of that fantastic match that volleyball fans will replay forever.