Lady Bulldogs secure semis berth, send Lady Eagles on the brink of elimination
Jaja Santiago powered National University to completing an elimination round sweep and clinching a semifinals berth.
National University booked a semifinals ticket and put Ateneo de Manila University in danger of missing the Final Four cut Saturday in Group A of the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs bounced back from a disastrous second set flop to shoot down the Lady Eagles, 25-21, 13-25, 25-19, 25-22, and occupy the first best-of-three semis berth sporting a clean 5-0 win-loss record.
"Test of wits ito more than anything," said NU coach Babes Castillo.
“Sa amin importante kasi ito because we’re discovering how are we gonna work together, dini-discover din ng ladies and sistemang ini-introduce,” he added. “Syempre, a win is a win, maganda ‘yan na booster sa spirit nila. 'Yun lang ang sa akin, we can take that and carry it on sa mga susunod na laro.”
Energized in the third set by the arrival of their drummers and cheering squad, which came all the way from the Big Dome after the UAAP basketball match of the Bulldogs against the same school, NU overhauled an 8-12 deficit and took an 18-14 lead.
With Jaja Santiago, Risa Sato, Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas getting good sets from playmaker Jasmine Nabor, the Lady Bulldogs built a 24-18 cushion in the third set. Jho Maraguinot saved a set point for Ateneo only to see the Lady Eagles commit an overreaching error in the next play to go down, 1-2.
The Lady Bulldogs raced to an early 11-4 lead in the fourth before the Lady Eagles made a telling run to take a 16-14 advantage.
NU countered to erase an 18-20 deficit with three straight points to take a 21-20 lead capped by an ace by Nabor.
The Lady Bulldogs went ahead 23-21 before Maraguinot kept Ateneo afloat with a kill. Urdas put NU at match point before Sato sealed the win with a kill block on Maraguinot.
Singh finished with 17 points on a balanced offensive outing with 11 coming off attacks, three from kill blocks and three aces for NU. Santiago had 12 with all but one coming off spikes while Sato and Audrey Paran got 11 and 10, respectively, for the Lady Bulldogs.
Urdas had eight points while Nabor tallied 41 excellent sets for NU.
Ateneo dropped to 3-2 slate and will need to pray hard for Lyceum of the Philippines University (1-3) to win against Far Eastern University (3-1) on Monday to force a playoff for the last Final Four spot.
Adamson University and Arellano University are through to the semis in Group B.
Maraguinot finished with 14 points, Kat Tolentino scored 12 while skipper Bea De Leon chipped in with 10 for the Katipunan-based squad.
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