Shock and awe.
Nobody could have predicted the results of Wednesday’s titanic Season 79 matchup between UP and La Salle, both teams headed for a collision with 2-0 records Sunday afternoon.
However, what was expected to be a battle that would go down the wire ended in straight sets with the underdog, UP, pulling the rug from the defending champions, a victory that has marked another milestone for the Jerry Yee-led crew.
According to spiker Kathy Bersola, the game plan was basic: serve hard to give La Salle setter Kim Fajardo a hard time creating her usual deadly plays.
“(Ang plano) bigatan ang serve para ma-eliminate ang middles (nila), bigyan ng less options ‘yung setter and nag tao na kami dun sa usual targets nila sa spikes,” revealed Bersola.
“‘Yung blocking namin hindi siya for getting block points. It’s for covering talaga the areas kaya maganda ang floor defense namin today. Teamwork talaga siya. Team effort for us,” she added.
Though the Lady Maroons emerged from the battlefield with seven service aces—an achievement, yes, but not a groundbreaking one—this is exclusive of their serves that forced the opponent to just put the ball up instead of sending it straight to the hands of Fajardo.
What is groundbreaking was the manner in which the Lady Maroons repeatedly turned back the girls of Ramil de Jesus to get their first win against La Salle since time immemorial.
Naturally, the Season 76 Best Blocker awardee is elated.
“Sobrang excited ko going into the game,” shared Bersola.
“Fifth year ko na sa UAAP and the past four years, two sets pa lang nakukuha namin sa kanila (La Salle) sa apat na taon na ‘yun,” she added. “Sila na lang ‘yung team na hindi pa namin natatalo so parang kami, Tyinaga talaga namin.”
Bersola went on to end the match with six points, including a couple of hope-crushing running attacks she says should be credited to her new setter, UP’s former libero Ayel Estranero.
The shamelessly picky spiker shares: “Ako, tanungin mo na sa lahat ng setter ko, may specific talaga akong hinihingi. Siya (Estranero), pag hindi niya nakukuha, tinatanong niya talaga ako: ‘Ate, paano ba?’”
“Pag may sinasabi ako sa kanya, tina-try niya talagang i-apply. Willing talaga siya to learn and adjust to me instead of me adjusting to her. Sobrang thankful ako na naiintindihan niya,” added the middle blocker.
Estranero, who is now being hailed as UAAP volleyball’s Ms. Anyone for her ability to play different positions, finished with 27 excellent sets and three service aces.