Powered by Jaja Santiago’s career-high 26 points, the NU Lady Bulldogs took care of a suddenly skidding AdU Lady Falcons, 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19 at the MoA Arena.
NU took full advantage of the league’s tallest player as Santiago dominated the match, spearheading a 13-6 block advantage. NU’s height also forced the Lady Falcons to 34 unforced errors compared to their 26.
Four early Lady Falcon errors buoyed NU to an 8-4 lead. AdU vets Amanda Villanueva and Faye Gueverra spearheaded a run that had their team take the lead, 11-10. A pair of signature spikes and an ace from Myla Pablo and a Santiago open hit pushed NU to a 16-12 advantage. Santiago brought NU to a 21-14 lead, driving four consecutive spikes at a point in the set. A Pablo open hit preceded a Roma Doromal ace to seal the set for the Lady Bulldogs.
Santiago continued to dominate the Lady Falcons, notching three spikes an a block, placing NU at an early 7-1 lead in the second set. Adamson continued to nibble at NU’s lead, eventually trimming it down to one at 10-11 but a flurry of their own errors boosted NU to a 16-11 lead. Adamson’s Mylene Paat tried valiantly to bring her team back but NU’s offensive pressure kept pouring on the Lady Falcons, allowing another easy set win for NU.
Adamson team captain Guevarra sprained her right ankle after landing awkwardly on a block attempt as her team carved an 8-7 lead in the third set. Guevarra did not return to the match. Both teams played hot potato with the lead but NU eventually pulled away, 18-16, off another powerful Santiago kill. Paat led an Adamson comeback that had her team finally break away, 23-20. Lady Falcons’ setter Fhen Emnas put an exclamation point on the set for Adamson with her signature dump off a bad reception.
Santiago kept pounding the ball on Adamson’s shorter frontline, pulling her team to an 8-5 lead in the fourth set. NU’s back row then stepped their defense up, catching almost all of Adamson’s spikes for their spikers to convert, helping their team build a 16-11 advantage midway through the set. NU’s defense held tight for the rest of the match, quelling all Adamson attempts at a comeback.
The win gives NU solo claim to the third seed while AdU is now tied with FEU and UP at 3-4.
NU – Santiago 26, Pablo 15, Dadang 7, Doromal 6, Soliven 5, Singh 2, Mandapat 2, General (L) 0, Perez 0
AdU – Villanueva 14, Paat 13, Galanza 10, Guevara 7, Emnas 4, Alkuino 3, Dacoron 2, Lebumfacil 0, Mohammad 0, Cortel (L) 0, Tempiatura (L) 0