Needing more from the middle, UP goes to Tots Carlos and she delivers

UP started its uphill climb for a crack at the Final Four on the right foot, beating Iriga in straight sets in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference Monday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. 

Facing the lowly Lady Oragons, coach Jerry Yee had the luxury to tinker with his rotation without seriously getting threatened in the 25-17, 25-17, 25-19 victory — their second in 5 outings.

“Di pa yan ang tao natin. We are still practicing,” said Yee. “Di pa yan final.”

After sending his usual starters, the multi-titled mentor gave some of his reserves much-needed game action.

Drawing the opportunity were Marian Buitre, Maris Layug, Rem Cailing and Jessma Ramos, with only incoming sophomores Sheena Chopitea and Aie Gannaban not getting playing time.

Buitre, who has been starting for the Lady Maroons at the middle position, was moved to the bench in favor of Tots Carlos, who led all scorers with 13 points off 10 hits, 2 blocks and an ace.

“We moved her sa middle, para trying to commit less errors kasi yung mga middle blockers nating bago medyo error-prone pa, so practice pa tayo if may improvement, may mga rotation changes,” said Yee on the Pampanga native, adding he hopes to still see improvement from his middle players for an added height advantage.

Already needing to sweep their remaining games against NU and Laoag, Yee is bracing for an all-out war with 2 good teams in their way for the last Final Four spot.

“Parehong lumalaban yon, in our minds NU and Adamson somehow so magandang gauge yun kung nasaan na yung program,” said the coach. “We have to perform kung ano ba talaga yung game namin, kung ano ba talaga yung skill level namin ngayon so itatry nating ilabas these coming games.” — By Jason Mercene