The National University Lady Bulldogs mustered a mead rally in the waning moments of the fifth frame to grab Game One of the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference Finals 25-21, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 18-16 at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
The Lady Bulldogs were dominant in the first set, taking a 21-16 lead before the Lady Eagles closer the gap with tough defense. Tied at 22, Ateneo’s Jhoana Maraguinot made crucial mistakes down the stretch including the error that gave the Lady Bulldogs the set. The second set had the Lady Eagles dominate early and never look back after taking a 19-13 lead.
Ateneo then erased a 22-17 NU lead in the fourth frame thanks to offense from Bea De Leon. A net touch on Jaja Santiago then a Maraguinot off-the-block kill pulled Ateneo to a 2-1 sets lead. But NU quickly retaliated, blasting the Lady Eagles with a 23-16 lead and forcing a decider.
Ateneo seemed to have the match in hand in the fifth frame after taking an 8-2 lead off NU’s poor offensive effort. But the Lady Bulldogs came back, first through a string of Jasmine Nabor serves that brought the Lady Bulldogs to within a point, 10-11, then Santiago rotated back to the front row and managed a four straight points to lead NU to a deuce 14-all. When Santiago rotated out, the Lady Bulldogs pulled offense from Aiko Urdas who converted on three consecutive plays to give NU the win.
“Kahit na natambakan kami, maganda na nakita namin ‘yung character ng team kapag nilalamangan kami. Sobrang laking bagay noon,” said NU assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Santiago poured in a season-high 31 points off 25 spikes, five blocks, and an ace. Urdas turned in 18 points while Jorelle Singh added 10.
Ana Gopico led the Lady Eagles with 18 points while Bea De Leon and Michelle Morente each pitched in 14. In her first game back from a stress fracture in her left calf, Maraguinot had nine points.
Game Two of the best-of-three series will be on Wednesday, September 14 at the PhilSports Arena.
NU (3) – Santiago 31, Urdas 18, Singh 10, Doromal 7, Nabor 6, Sato 6, Chavez (L), Valdez (L)
ADMU (2) – Gopico 18, De Leon 14, Morente 14, Maraguinot 9, Samonte 8, Morado 2, Gaston 1, Gequillana 0, Lavitoria (L), Tan (L)