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Tiebreaker Times


Lady Bulldogs eliminate Tigresses, keep Final Four hopes alive

Mirroring their first round matchups, the National University Lady Bulldogs and University of Santo Tomas Tigresses figured in a five-setter only this time, NU evaded a late-game crash to eliminate UST 19-25, 25- , 25- , -25, 15- at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

NU had the upper hand early, breaking out of a heated exchange to take a 12-6 lead in the first set. After UST finally got Jaja Santiago off the service line, NU suddenly collapsed. As NU surrendered errors, UST team captain Ej Laure propelled her squad, finishing off long rallies with thunderous, sharp-angled hits. The Tigresses went on a 17-3 run for a 23-15 lead highlighted by a stretch where Laure scored thrice in a row. NU had a last ditch 4-0 spurt, forcing a UST timeout. However, the Lady Bulldogs shot their own foot, spotting UST two attack errors to end the set.

After a lackluster first set, NU stalwart Jaja Santiago dominated the following set. Showing near-perfect form and timing in her approaches, Santiago tallied five hits and two blocks in the set. NU took a massive 22-9 advantage and gripped their lead until they notched the set.

NU continued to roll in the third set through their stellar passing and serving. Tightening up their service receptions, the Lady Bulldogs set up more plays for Santiago who converted seven points in the frame. After clinging to just a two-point edge, the Lady Bulldogs expanded their lead to seven, 18-11, punishing the UST back line with loaded serves. Exhausting both their timeouts early, the Tigresses had no way of stopping the bleeding and allowed the Bulldogs to get their noses ahead, 2-1 in sets.

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As the UST crowd brought the noise, their Tigresses responded in the fourth set. As NU looked primed to take the match, leading 12-8, the Tigresses then clawed their way back through the dynamic attacking of Cherry Rondina. NU’s lead slowly trickled down until the Tigresses overtook them with a 4-0 run for a 23-19 lead. Both squads then traded points with NU serve specialist Marites Pablo giving UST the set off a wide serve.

Unlike their previous meeting where NU’s hinges came off in the fifth set, the Lady Bulldogs finished the match in a blaze. Building an early 7-1 lead, NU’s veterans, Myla Pablo and Jaja Santiago finished off the erring Tigresses.

“Muntik na nga ako atakihin noong nag 11-6 ulet kami,” said NU head coach Roger Gorayed referring to the lead they gave up in the first round. “Nakahinga na lang ako nang malalim noong naka-score kami noong sunod na point. Buti na lang natapos namin agad.”

Jaja Santiago tallied a game-high 22 points off 14 attacks, six aces, and two blocks. Team captain Myla Pablo added 18 markers while Jorelle Singh managed 15.

Ej Laure finished the match with 18 markers built on 14 attacks, three blocks, and an ace. Cherry Rondina tallied 14.

For the fourth straight season, UST falls out of the Final Four with an 5-8 record and a game remaining against the UP Lady Maroons on April 10 at the SM MoA Arena.

NU kept their head afloat with a 7-6 record currently. They need to win their last elimination round match against the DLSU Lady Spikers on April 13 at the FilOil Flying V Centre to secure a Final Four seed.

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The Scores

NU (3) – Santiago 22, Pablo 18, Singh 15, Urdas 7, Doria 4, Diolan 1, Abriam 0, Pablo Ma. 0, Valdez (L)

UST (2) – Laure 18, Rondina 14, Meneses 7, De Leon 6, Tunay 6, Bicar 1, Sandoval 1, Teope 1, Francisco 0, Rivera (L), Reyes (L)

Written By

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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