NU, FEU brace for war as championship series opens
National University and Far Eastern University march into battle for the PVL Collegiate Conference throne.
Focus in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference best-of-three championship match between unbeaten National University and Far Eastern University will be on team captains Jaja Santiago of the Lady Bulldogs and Lady Tamaraws’ Bernadeth Pons.
They will try to rally their respective squads in the all-important Game 1 of the Finals series on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre starting 6:30 p.m.
Action will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream.
Santiago, who averaged 26 points in the semifinals, led NU to a series sweep of Arellano University in their best-of-three Final Four showdown. The Lady Bulldogs are undefeated in seven games.
The 6-foot-5 veteran scored 28 points in the Lady Bulldogs’ Finals seat-clinching 25-17, 26-28, 17-25, 25-13, 20-18, win over the feisty Arellano University Lady Chiefs last Saturday.
But aside from her scoring prowess, new NU coach Babes Castillo is impressed with Santiago’s leadership.
“I like how Jaja is leading the team inside and outside the court. In a course of three weeks I’ve seen a lot of maturity and nakikita ko talaga ang wares ng isang championship player,” said Castillo, who hopes to steer the Lady Bulldogs to another crown after NU dominated the defunct V-League’s Collegiate Conference in 2015 and 2016.
Santiago will have a solid backup in Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, Risa Sato and top setter Jasmine Nabor.
FEU, meanwhile, needed to survive a semis series deciding match against Adamson University to advance in the Finals. The championship tussle will also serve as a rematch of the V-League’s 2014 title series won by the Lady Tams.
The Morayta-based squad defeated the Lady Falcons, 21-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-18, last Monday as Pons returned to action after missing the Lady Tams’ previous four matches to focus on beach volleyball.
Pons finished with 15 points while adding 14 digs and 11 excellent receptions.
“‘Yung captain ball ko ang isa sa nakakatulong sa mga bata sa kung anong mga decision making na dapat nilang gawin,” said FEU coach George Pascua of his graduating hitter.
Czarina Carandang, Toni Rose Basas, Jeanette Villareal, Celine Domingo and Jerrili Malabanan are expected to go-all out to support Pons.
Game 2 is on Saturday while Game 3, if needed, is on Monday.
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