Defending champion National University Nazareth School fashioned out a come-from-behind 20-25, 25-16, 27-29, 25-16, 15-11 win over Adamson University to take Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 High School Girls’ Volleyball Finals, Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Bullpups captured their 25th straight win dating back to Season 82 when they swept the season at 14-0. They closed the fifth and final frame on a 4-0 tear to move a win for a second straight title.
Kianne Olango fired back-to-back spikes in the fifth set in between two Adamson timeouts, before Robielle Silla closed the match with a kill off an over-passed ball.
Despite the win, NUNS coach Vilet Ponce-De Leon believes the Bullpups are still far from the expected form even as it is already the postseason.
“We’re going to strive for consistency. Ang game nung mga bata, inaantay pa rin naming lumabas until now, and it’s already the Finals. Hindi siya yung dire-diresto eh and they know that,” De Leon said after the thrilling two-hour, 27-minute contest.
Adamson leaned on its service game in the opening set and capitalized on NUNS’ passing woes to get ahead in transition with Shaina Nitura clicking. The Baby Falcons eventually closed the set for a 1-0 lead scoring three of its last six points at the serve, 25-20.
The second set, though, was a different story as the reigning champions fortified their first-ball deliveries to get better chances at the attack. Olango came alive in the frame, extending the lead Bullpups’ at 16-10 with a crosscourt kill, before firing the equalizing kill in nearly the same fashion.
It was a back-and-forth battle in the third that needed an extension as setters Abegail Pono and Ghail Cuenca outsmarted each other. Eventually, an attack error from the Bullpups gave the Baby Falcons the set point, which Rojo gladly finished with a huge attack from the middle.
Leading by just two at 18-16 after a Nitura kill block on Bienne Bansil in the fourth set, it was the Bullpups who took the game at the net to fuel a seven-point closing run. Fittingly, Bansil denied Nitura this time to force a deciding fifth set.
“Kaya sila umiiyak kasi nasa-sad sila kasi alam nila na meron pa silang laro na ilalabas. Yung yung target na target namin, kasi last na eh. Gusto na naming tapusin,” De Leon said.