The National University Lady Bulldogs go up 1-0 in their 13th Shakey’s VLeague Collegiate Conference Semifinals series against University of the Philippines Lady Maroons after defeating the latter in four sets, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24, Monday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Three Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures, with National Team skipper Jaja Santiago leading the way with 22 points off 17 attacks. Jorelle Singh also had 22, while Aiko Urdas added 12. Jasmine Nabor had 48 excellent sets for NU.
Santiago’s appearance was a surprise for many, as it is widely known that she is currently playing for Foton Team Pilipinas in the ongoing Asian Volleyball Championships in Biñan, Laguna.
The Lady Maroons got off to a good start in the first set, sustaining their hold of the lead, 16-14, midway. But NU woke up from their slow pace and turned things in their favor to put themselves ahead, 24-21. Errors on their side allowed UP to come close, 24-23, but a Singh down-the-line hit shut down UP and sent NU up 1-0, 25-23.
A game of runs defined the following set. From UP’s slim 16-13 lead, NU sent the frame to a 20-all tie. Both teams scored off attacks and errors from each other, but National U had the last laugh, as two consecutive single blocks courtesy of Santiago and Urdas elevated the Lady Bulldogs to a 2-nil set advantage, 25-23.
The match’s third chapter saw UP sustain rhythm all throughout. From a 17-all lock, Nicole Tiamzon and Isa Molde provided the needed offense for the Lady Maroons to send their team to set point, 24-21. Back-to-back errors from UP let NU to inch by a point, 24-23, but a net touch call by the referee on NU sent the match to a fourth set, 25-23.
The fourth and last set saw a tight affair ensue between UP and NU. With the Lady Bulldogs lagging behind most of the time, they switched a 21-19 deficit in their favor to make it a deuce at 24. The Maroons had a chance to send it to a deciding fifth set, but two straight hits from Santiago sealed Game 1 for NU, 26-24, in four sets.
Tiamzon led UP with 17 points coming off 16 attacks. Molde supplied 13 in the loss.
“I-improve pa namin yung service at receive namin pati yung depensa sa baba,” reiterated NU assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad in tonight’s match.
Mabbayad also shared the positives from NU’s victory, which saw all sets decided by just two points. “Nakikita ko na kahit dikitan yung laban eh lumalaban sila. Nandun pa rin yung tapang,” he said.
Game 2 of NU vs UP will be this Wednesday, September 7, 4PM, still at the Philsports Arena.
NU (3) – Santiago 22, Singh 22, Urdas 12, Nabor 8, Sato 8, Doromal 5, Chavez (L), Valdez (L).
UP (1) – Tiamzon 17, Molde 13, Carlos 8, Dorog 7, Buitre 6, Bersola 5, Basarte 3, Gannaban 3, Cailing 1, Estranero (L), Gaiser (L).