With Jaja Santiago imposing her will the entire match, the NU Lady Bulldogs netted a crucial win over the Adamson Lady Falcons in four sets, 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19 at the MoA Arena.
Santiago, who seems to grow two inches every season, controlled the pace of the match every time she was in the front row as the Lady Falcons had no answer for the 6’4 stalwart. Santiago finished the match with 25 points off 18 attacks, six blocks, and an ace. The Lady Falcons didn’t do themselves any favors as well, as they amassed 33 errors- many of which came during pivotal moments of the match when they could have won a set.
The Lady Bulldogs got the Santiago rampage going early as they continuously set her the ball. Santiago amassed seven points in their opening set thrashing of the Lady Falcons.
It seemed that NU was on their way to clinching the second set as well, but the Lady Bulldogs struggled to produce points without Santiago upfront. With NU up 21-18 and with no Santiago in the front line, the Lady Falcons went on a 4-0 run to take the lead behind terrific spiking from graduating veteran Amanda Villanueva and sophomore Jessica Galanza. They snuck from behind to take the set with Santiago left on the bench.
The Lady Falcons seemed to have figured out how to cover Santiago in the third set as they blitzed their foes even with the younger of the Santiagos in the front line. Adamson built a 24-21 lead only to have NU’s role players, Desiree Dadang and Rizza Mandapat, lead a 5-0 run to take the set from under their noses.
In the final set, the Lady Falcons were visibly deflated by their previous set loss, eventually allowing NU to build an eight-point lead that the Lady Falcons could not get over.
The Lady Falcons were once again led by their top three scorers, Villanueva, Mylene Paat, and Galanza. Paat and Galanza each pitched in 15 points while Villanueva netted 14 markers.
The win tightens NU’s hold on the third seed, needing only to win their final matchup against UP on Saturday at the San Juan Arena. The Lady Falcons are still not out of the Final Four chase but they will need the teams ahead of them to lose key matches, and they themselves have to win their final match against the Lady Tams on Saturday at the San Juan Arena.
NU – Santiago 25, Mandapat 12, Pablo My. 11, Singh 8, Dadang 7, Soliven 1, Perez 1, General (L), Valdez (L)
AdU – Paat 15, Galanza 15, Villanueva 14, Guevara 8, Alkuino 5, Emnas 5, Lebumfacil 1, Tempiatura (L), Listana (L)