The UP Lady Fighting Maroons are champions again!
Following an eventful 2018, the ladies of Diliman are celebrating the New Year with two gold trophies and two MVPs. With 2019 approaching, the Maroons are ready to take on UAAP Season 81 with one goal in mind — book another trip to the Finals.
Trying Times for UP
After ending Season 79 with just a win shy from booking another Final Four appearance, many believed there was nowhere to go but up for the UPWVT at that time.
However, in late 2017, the Women’s Volleyball Team had to go through abrupt changes. Transitioning to a new coach, fans wondered whether the team had enough time to adapt to the changes.
Thankfully, Coach Okumu was no stranger to the ladies after joining their training camps in Japan and Baguio. It was a slow grind at first, with the ladies ending Season 80 at sixth spot. They also ranked at a lowly eighth place in the Philippine Superliga Invitational 2018.
Lady Maroons Make History
After months of handwork under a new system, the Lady Maroons finally saw their efforts bear fruit.
The Philippine Volleyball League Collegiate Conference 2018 saw a different UPWVT — hungrier and more determined to win. Pitted against powerful collegiate teams, the team started dominating.
While there were bumps and bruises along the way, UP’s renewed fervor pushed them past formidable opponents to book a Finals seat in the PVL — its first in decades.
“Sobrang saya namin! Lalo na since nasunod namin yun mga pinagagawa ni coach. Big factor din yun teamwork,” Isa Molde shared at that time.
From then, UP hasn’t looked back.
The Lady Maroons swept the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the PVL finals to bag its first Championship in 36 years. Add to this, Molde was hailed Finals and Conference Most Valuable Player and 1st Best Open Spiker. Ayie Gannaban was also awarded 2nd Best Middle Blocker.
Staying on Top
After a record-breaking Cinderella run, UP came back stronger and even more determined to bag another gold hardware in the Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam 2018.
With a slightly different line-up, UP again dominated the tournament with its almost unblemished elimination run. The only thorn for the squad was UST.
The Golden Tigresses ended the clean slate of UP, beating them in three straight sets in the eliminations. It wasn’t even as close a match as the Maroons had hoped with a final score of 25-22, 25-17, 25-19.
But one loss couldn’t dampen the ladies’ spirits. Determined to continue winning, the UPWVT booked another Finals appearance. This time, against the only team who beat them — UST.
The Maroons wanted to exact revenge against the Tigresses after a humiliating loss. And exact revenge they did.
The Lady Maroons was all kinds of spectacular in their Finals matchup at the PSL-CGS. While the win didn’t come easy against the first-seeded team, UP came prepared and wanted nothing more than the title “Champs!”
It was a full team effort that saw the Maroons book another championship in a closely contested match running four sets. The second gold was also accented by another MVP winner in Tots Carlos. Carlos also bagged 1st Best Outside Spiker while Ayie Gannaban secured another Middle Blocker award.
After an impressive off-season run, the UP Lady Fighting Maroons are ready to take on the upcoming UAAP season. The championships prove that they are capable of competing (and beating) some of the best collegiate teams in the country.
With two championships and two MVPs in toe, UPWVT could duplicate the achievement of the Men’s Basketball team — finding themselves in the Final Four and then hopefully, the Finals.
To the fans, alumni, the Sytin family, UAI, and to everyone who has supported the team through the rollercoaster 2018 — Maraming Salamat po!
From the UP Lady Fighting Maroons, Merry Christmas and an even more successful New Year!