Santiago, Urdas lead NU closer to repeat title
Mark Escarlote on Sep 12, 2016 10:00 PM
Jaja Santiago dropped 31 points in National University's five-set Finals Game 1 win over Ateneo de Manila.
Aiko Urdas played like a woman possessed in the crucial stretch of the fifth set to tow the defending champion National University past the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles in a thrilling 25-21, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 18-16 decision Monday night in Game 1 of the best-of-three championship series of the 13th V-League Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
With ace hitter 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago sitting on the bench in the pivotal point of the decider, Urdas took matters on her own hands smashing match-clinching kill that sliced through the two-woman wall of the Lady Eagles right into an open spot at the back row to push NU a win closer for a repeat crown.
“Doon namin nakita ang attitude niya (Urdas) sa crucial point na ‘yun na kahit match point at wala si Jaja sa harap at sila ang nandoon pinanindigan nila. Ginawa nila ang part nila,” said NU assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Santiago poured in 31 big points with 25 coming of kills including a quick attack that tied the fifth frame at 14 after the Lady Eagles reached match point. Urdas finished with 18 markers off 13 spikes, three aces and a pair of kill blocks for the Lady Bulldogs, which avenged its straight sets loss to Ateneo in the preliminary round.
Jorelle Singh scored 10 points while Jasmine Nabor dished out 41 excellent sets in NU’s total of 57 attack points.
The Lady Bulldogs went behind 3-8 in the fifth set before unleashing a 10-5 counter attack to tie the set at 13 capped by a solid block by Santiago.
Jho Maraguinot pushed the Lady Eagles at match point with a kill before Santiago saved a point. Bea De Leon sent Ateneo back at match point but the Lady Bulldogs turned it around with back-to-back points.
The Lady Eagles evened the score at 16 before Nabor scored on a block and Urdas sealed the victory.
“Nakita namin ang willingness nila na manalo, nandoon sa kanila kanina,” said a relieved Mabayyad, whose squad will try to close the series on Wednesday.
Ana Gopico had 18 points while Michelle Morente and De Leon finished with 14 each for the Lady Eagles. Maraguinot, who saw action for the first time after recovering from a shin injury, scored nine.
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