NU halts Ateneo's winning run, improves Final Four bid
Mark Escarlote on Mar 22, 2017 06:46 PM
Jaja Santiago of National University unloads 25 points to put an end on Ateneo de Manila's eight-game winning streak.
National University reasserted its mastery over Ateneo de Manila University, snapping the Lady Eagles’ eight-game winning streak with a 17-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13, win Wednesday to move closer to a Final Four berth in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs showed composure under tremendous pressure in the fifth frame, staving off the comeback attempt of the gritty Lady Eagles to climb at solo third spot with 7-4 win-loss record.
Ateneo threatened in the closing stretch of the deciding frame, cutting down NU’s 14-11 lead to one after a crosscourt attack from Jho Maraguinot and an attack error by Santiago that went wide.
Maraguinot smashed her spike attempt long in the next play to surrender the match to the only squad that defeated them so far this season.
Santiago unloaded 25 points in an all-around scoring performance with 16 attacks, eight kill blocks and an ace for the Lady Bulldogs. Aiko Urdas got 12 markers while Jorelle Singh had 11 for NU.
“Maganda ang panalo naming ngayon. Kailangan lang nating i-capitalize. Mataas ang kompiyansa at morale ng mga bata kaya sana magtuluy-tuloy,” said NU coach Roger Gorayeb, who gave his liberos a ‘silent suspension’ in the first couple of sets before fielding Gayle Valdez in the fourth and fifth frames.
Down, 1-2, in the match the Lady Bulldogs banked on the steady hands of Santiago and Singh in the fourth to force a decider and eventually steal the match to complete a sweep of Ateneo in the eliminations for the first time since Season 76.
The Lady Bulldogs saw its 16-10 second set lead evaporate after giving away seven errors in the Lady Eagles’ 11-4 rally that put Ateneo on top, 21-20. NU fired back with four points to take a 24-22 advantage.
Aiko Urdas committed an error in the next play before Ateneo threw away the set with an attack error that tied the match at one set apiece.
After the Lady Eagles took the third set, NU built an early lead in the fourth and held a 23-17 advantage. Ateneo chopped its deficit to three, 23-20, but Jho Maraguinot overshot her attack on the next play before Santiago committed a service error to give Ateneo another chance.
The Lady Eagles yielded the frame when setter Jia Morado’s joust attempt went out.
Ateneo remain on top of the heap even after its second loss in 11 games.
Maraguinot finished with 18 points with 14 coming off attacks while Kat Tolentino uncorked 17 markers for the Katipunan-based squad.
Bea De Leon and Michelle Morente registered 13 and 12 points, respectively, for the Lady Eagles, who rained down 20 aces but gave away 39 points off errors.
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