The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs looked like their old selves again after sweeping the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons in straight sets, 25-19, 25-23, 27-25, early Wednesday night at the Filoil Flying V Centre, San Juan City.
The Lady Bulldogs took a slim lead in the opening set, as Jaja Santiago connected on a quick attack. UP was quick to counter, though, with Kathy Bersola notching a block kill on Myla Pablo, Jorelle Singh committing an attack error, and Bersola serving up an ace, putting UP in the lead 10-8.
The Lady Maroons started having problems from there on, however, as three UP errors helped NU go on a 7-1 run, turning the tables on the Maroons. While UP tried to make headway, NU was content to trade points and eventually the set win.
UP’s Isa Mold scored on consecutive points with a kill and an ace for a 3-2 lead. The Lady Maroons, however, coughed the ball multiple times, as three of NU’s 4-0 run came from the Lady Maroon’s miscues.
NU was able to extend their lead further as Pablo came alive midway through the set. Ahead 11-9, Pablo launched NU to a 4-0 run, with three of the points coming from her attacks. It seemed like NU had run away with the set after Singh scored off the block for a 23-14 lead.
UP, however, had one more burst of energy in them. After Singh coughed up a service error, Marian Buitre rejected Pablo on consecutive attacks. An NU timeout was not enough to stall UP’s rampage as UP completed their 7-0 run after a Jewel Lai ace, Isa Molde off speed kill, and consecutive NU errors trimmed NU’d lead to just 2, 23-21. This forced NU coach, Roger Gorayeb to call his last timeout of the set, calling up a play that resulted in a Pablo kill, putting NU at set point. A Lady Bulldog net interference, and Diana Carlos kill brought UP within one, but Aiko Urdas scoring off the block handed the set to NU.
The Lady Maroons attempted to salvage the game in the opening moments of the third set as they quickly got to an 8-3 lead at the first technical timeout. Both teams traded points before Santiago went on a 3-0 by herself, scoring on a quick, a block, and a tip, cutting NU’s deficit to 2, 9-7. UP was able to increase their lead to five after a Molde kill, but a 7-0 run by NU saw the Bulldogs leading by 2, 16-14.
UP was able to take a 23-21 lead, as an Urdas service error was followed by a pair of Santiago quick attacks that went wide. NU’s Singh showed off her power by connecting on consecutive kills that tied the set. NU was able to take match point after a Singh ace, and while Molde was able to tie the set at 25, a pair of UP errors handed the match to the Lady Bulldogs.
Pablo topped all scorers with 14 points, 13 off attacks and serving up an ace. Santiago and Singh had 11 and 10 points respectively to round off NU’s balanced scoring.
No UP player scored in double digits, with Molde pitching 9, and Carlos contributing 7 points as well.
Gorayeb mentioned how the Holy Week may have proved fruitful for his team and reduce the pressure that they felt, resulting in their good game against the Lady Maroons.
“Siguro nawala sa isip nila yung nangyari sa nakaraan. After the Holy Week kami nagkita. Siguro nakaganda sa kanila, nakareflect sila, nabawasan ng pressure.”
“Sobrang team effort yung panalo. Siguro narealize nila na we have to win this game.”
NU (3) – Pablo 14, Santiago 11, Singh 10, Urdas 8, Doria 3, Diolan 2, Valdez L.
UP (0) – Molde 9, Carlos 7, Buitre 6, Dorog 5, Tiamzon 4, Lai 3, Chopitea 3, Bersola 2, Gannaban 1, Basarte 0, Estranero L, Gaiser L.