Drawing spectacular performances from their top three scorers, the Lady Bulldogs move on to face La Salle with a four-set triumph of the FEU Lady Tams 25-13, 25-17, 25-27, 25-23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Tams fell victim to NU’s offensive juggernaut as the Lady Bulldogs outspiked them, 61-46, while driving in more aces, 8-2. Fifth-year open spiker, Myla Pablo led NU’s attack netting 22 points off 21 attacks. First year player, Jorelle Singh, contributed her second best scoring output of the season with 20 makers, while Jaja Santiago pitched in 19 points off 16 spikes, two aces, and a block.
The Lady Bulldogs dominated the onset of the match as Jaja Santiago dished out six early points to power NU to a 16-7 lead. Errors marred FEU for the rest of the set allowing NU to take the set handily.
FEU’s floor and net defense continued to struggle into the second set as NU had no problem drilling in attacks. Myla Pablo played magnificently throughout the set, pacing NU’s offense with six points in the set, leading NU to their second set win.
FEU handled the start of the third set better, deflecting NU’s attacks and funneling them to their Libero, Tin Agno. A pair of Jorelle Singh attacks gave NU a momentary 15-14 lead. The next point saw NU’s Myla Pablo sprain her right ankle after diving for a ball that went off a digger’s arm. Pablo returned to the match with FEU leading 18-17 after getting the ankle taped up and sprayed. Both teams slugged it out into a deuce, with Jorelle Singh driving in a spike then an ace to give NU the first deuce advantage. NU errors eventually led to their demise, giving FEU their only set win.
The Lady Tams continued to battle through NU’s superior height with relentless floor defense. Jorelle Singh and Myla Pablo teamed up for a combined 11 points in the set, but FEU still held an advantage midway through the set, 13-10. Coach Roger Gorayeb tried to get his team’s offense going, opting to utilize backup setter, Ivy Perez, but the fourth year setter had failed to get her team going, leading to FEU netting a critical 23-22 advantage. Hence, Jaja Santiago took control of the match, dropping a point and forcing an error with her long arms as NU swooped in and took the match.
FEU sophomore, Bernadette Pons paced her team and kept them afloat in tight situations. She finished with a team-high 16 points, while third year player, Heather Guino-O, managed 13 markers in their first Final Four appearances. Graduating spiker, Sam Dawson, started the match, but failed to score a point in her final UAAP game. FEU Libero, Tin Agno turned in a signature performance in her last UAAP outing zipping around the court for 14 digs and eight excellent receptions.
NU now has a tough task ahead of them as they will have to take down the Lady Spikers on Wednesday, with La Salle holding a twice-to-beat advantage.
Coach Roger stressed in a postgame interview that his team needs to put on a better performance on Wednesday if they hope to survive.
“Every game for us now is parang championship, do-or-die na lahat ng mga susunod na laban. La Salle is already a tough team, ngayon twice-to-beat pa sila. Mahirap talaga. Pero paghahandaan namin, we’ll see,” Coach Gorayeb remarked. Coach Gorayeb is yet to beat La Salle in his tenure as a UAAP Coach.
NU – Pablo 22, Singh 20, Santiago 19, Mandapat 9, Dadang 5, Perez 0, Doria 0, Abriam 0, General (L)
FEU – Pons 16, Guino-O 13, Basas 10, Casugod 9, Simborio 3, Malabanan 2, Palma 2, Papa 1, Negrito 0, Atienza 0, Agno (L)