Facing a team that was looking to give their young players more playing time, the NU Lady Bulldogs deflected an upset and handled the UP Lady Maroons in four sets 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-18 at the FilOil Flying-V Arena.
Although the Lady Bulldogs were loaded with veterans, the Lady Maroons started the match visibly more composed. NU committed multiple errors and had trouble coordinating attacks as their rookie setter, Rica Diolan needed to get a feel for her team’s potent offensive lineup. Despite their struggles, the Lady Bulldogs still found themselves within two points of the Lady Maroons. However, they squandered the set due to multiple mistimed service receptions and attack errors.
The Santiago sisters took over the match from there. Down 7-10, Dindin Santiago-Manabat sparked a run from the service line while Jaja Santiago put away all the free balls they got from UP’s faulty receptions. NU rattled off six straight points and rode their momentum all the way to their first set win. NU then continued to dominate, continuously feeding their twin towers and eventually got Myla Pablo going. NU even got to field their open hitter, Sweet Urdas, who suffered an ACL injury early last year. Urdas scored one point in a set and a half of action.
Former Shakey’s V-League MVP, Dindin Manabat topped all scorers with 24 points off 16 attacks, three blocks, and five aces. Myla Pablo followed with 18 markers while Jaja Santiago finished with 15 points.
The Lady Maroons are still without their starting middle blocker Kathy Bersola who is still nursing an ACL tear she sustained in UAAP Season 77 while last season’s team captain, Nicole Tiamzon will also sit out the tournament to rest her knee that was injured during a hit-and-run incident last year.
Rookie, Diana Carlos put on a show in the first set and mustered 13 markers. Three Lady Maroons – Justine Dorog, Marian Buitre, Maria Lina Molde – pitched in nine points apiece.
“Ang sabi ko lang sa kanila, hindi namin kailangan sabayan ‘yung bagal ng laro ng kalaban. Nung simula ganoon ‘yung nangyari pero nahabol naman namin sa mga sumunod na set,” said NU assistant coach, Edjet Mabbayad.
The Lady Bulldogs have the University of Batangas up next on July 18 while the Lady Maroons look to bounce back against PUP on July 19.
NU (3) – Manabat 24, Pablo 18, Santiago 15, Singh 8, Nabor 4, Urdas 1, Diolan 1, Perez 0, Paran 0, General (L)
UP (1) – Carlos 13, Dorog 9, Buitre 9, Molde 9, Layug 7, Lai 3, Ong 2, Basarte 1, Ilustre 0, Alinas 0, Calinas 0, Gaiser (L), Estranero (L)