The National University Lady Bulldogs endured a disappointing run in UAAP Season 78, the graduation and transfer of key players, and internal issues.
They were the underdogs heading into the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference, but the Lady Bulldogs persisted and took down all challengers as they won the gold after sweeping the Finals against the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles in Game Two, 18-25, 25-19, 25-21, 21-25, 15-4, at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
Ateneo had been ahead for most of the first set, opening a 16-11 lead which they kept until the set ended. The Lady Bulldogs retaliated in the following frames, improving their defense and reception. A sequence of Jaja Santiago hits and blocks buoyed the Lady Bulldogs to a 22-16 lead in the second frame, setting up a finishing flourish of hits from Aiko Urdas and Jasmine Nabor. The 6’6” NU team captain then scored three clutch points in the third set to bring the Lady Bulldogs from a 22-all tie to a 25-22 set win.
Momentum then teetered in the fourth frame, with NU mounting furious comebacks at different points. Jorelle Singh converted four points in a run that erased a five-point Ateneo advantage and forced a 21-all knot. But Ateneo quickly countered thanks to heads-up plays at the net from Bea De Leon. Two De Leon blocks bolstered Ateneo 4-0 run to force a decider.
NU grabbed control of the fifth frame with attacks and blocks stemming from aggressive serving. With a 9-3 lead, the Lady Bulldogs never looked back, banking on hits from eventual Final MVP Jasmine Nabor to finish the job.
“Siguro napaghandaan lang talaga namin sila. Nakakatuwa din naman na makitang ganyan ‘yung pinapakita nila kasi ang rami na ngang nangyari sa amin bago itong tournament. Magandang boost to para da amin papinta ng UAAP,” said NU acting head coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Season MVP Jaja Santiago tallied 27 points off 23 attacks and four blocks. Jorelle Singh added 16, while Jasmine Nabor scored 14 points with 43 excellent sets.
Bea De Leon led the Lady Eagles with 14, while Michelle Morente and Jhoana Maraguinot managed 13 apiece.
The Lady Bulldogs have now won back-to-back SVL Collegiate trophies while Ateneo settled for another runner-up finish.
NU (3) – Santiago 27, Singh 16, Nabor 14, Sato 9, Urdas 5, Doromal 3, Valdez (L)
ADMU (2) – De Leon 14, Maraguinot 13, Morente 13, Gopico 7, Gequillana 6, Morado 5, Samonte 2, Gaston 1, Lavitoria (L), Tan (L)