Lady Bulldogs stay alive in Final Four seat hunt

Mark Escarlote on Mar 30, 2016 07:02 PM
Lady Bulldogs stay alive in Final Four seat hunt
Jaja Santiago of National University challenged the defense of University of the Philippines' Kathy Bersola.

National University exacted revenge on its first round tormentor University of the Philippines to bolster the Lady Bulldogs’ final push for a position in the Final Four.

Pushed against the wall after a series of misfortunes that bridged from the end of the first round and midway in the second, the Lady Bulldogs mustered a telling rally after falling behind early in the third set and kept their composure in the closing stretch to punish the rookie-laden Lady Maroons, 25-19, 25-23, 27-25 Wednesday in 78th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

Behind 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo and Jorelle Singh, NU improved to 6-6 win-loss record and is now a win behind their victim and Far Eastern University, which are tied in third and fourth with 7-5 card behind league-leading and early Final Four qualifiers two-time champion Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle which tote identical 9-2 records.

The Sampaloc-based squad also stalled UP's entry to the Final Four.

Pablo blasted 13 of her 14 points from powerful spikes to lead NU, which avenged its straight sets loss to UP in the first round, while Santiago had 11 and Singh scored 10, six coming from the service line.

Libero Gayle Valdez had a fine outing with 17 receptions and 16 digs in a relief role for sidelined Bia General, who is out for two weeks after suffering a bruised right elbow in the Lady Bulldogs’ loss to Far Eastern University before the Holy Week break.

“Ang isang paa namin nasa hukay na e. Every game for us beginning now is always last chance na e,” said NU head coach Roger Gorayeb, whose squad still has to face University of Sto. Tomas and De La Salle in their remaining elimination round outings.

“Nanalo kami ngayon pero ang next game namin last chance na ulit namin yun. Kung naipanalo namin, last chance pa rin yung last game namin para maka-eight (wins) kami and baka sakali makatabla kami sa fourth place,” added Gorayeb. “Pero hindi ko na masyado iniisip na pumasok sa fourth place, ang iniisip ko na lang maipanalo namin ito para naman maka-recover ulit ang mga bata sa nawalang confidence na nawala sa kanila on what they read and what they hear (sa social media).”          

The Lady Bulldogs fought back from a 3-8 deficit at the start of the third and took a 16-14 lead before a see-saw windup.                         

Singh pushed NU at matchpoint advantage after UP squandered a 24-23 lead with a net error. Rookie Isa Molde tied the set at 25 before Pablo gave the Lady Bulldogs their second matchpoint advantage. Another attack error by the Lady Maroons closed the one-hour, 21-minute match.              

Molde finished with nine points while freshman Diana Carlos had seven for UP.  

NU dodged a monumental meltdown in the second set when the Lady Bulldogs built a 23-14 lead only to see UP spring back to life and explode with a seven straight points to threaten to turn the set around.

Pablo stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit for the set point, the Lady Maroons saved two points before Aiko Urdas closed the frame with an of the block attack.





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