National University sustained its hot charge coming off an eliminations sweep, smothering Arellano U with its power game and solid blocking to score a 25-17, 25-16, 25-23 romp and move a win from nailing the first finals berth in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference in San Juan on Wednesday.
National team Jaja Santiago unloaded a match-high 24 hits, the last ending what turned out to be a tight third set after the Lady Bulldogs cruised to lopsided wins in the first two frames in the opener of their best-of-three semifinal series.
The Lady Chiefs put up a strong challenge in the third, overcoming an 11-15 deficit and seizing the lead twice, the last at 20-19 on an NU unforced error.
But Santiago and Risa Sato combined in 4-1 counterattack to regain control and after Santiago and Necole Ebuen traded attack errors, the chief Lady Bulldog converted on a Jasmine Nabor’s set to finish off the Lady Chiefs and stretch their win run to six, counting the five in their domination of the single round elims of the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision.
“We were just able to execute our plays,” said Santiago, who also had three aces and emerged the game’s best player.
NU goes for the clincher in Game Two on Saturday.
Sato marked her 22nd birthday with 11 points, providing the energy and quick points on the net, while Aiko Urdas, who forms part of the solid NU frontline, delivered eight markers.
With Santiago on the firing end, NU produced 45 attack points, nearly doubling its rival’s 26 spikes, with the Lady Bulldogs also coming through with eight blocks and the same number of aces.
The Lady Bulldogs also checked Arellano top hitter Jovielyn Prado, who struggled for four hits. Regine Arocha topscored for Arellano with eight hits while Andrea Marzan and Ebuen had six points apiece.
Earlier, Ateneo and Far Eastern U moved closer to forging a clash for the men’s crown as they beat their respective rivals in contrasting styles at the start of their best-of-three semifinal series in the tournament backed by Mikasa and Asics.
The Eagles, who swept the eight-team elims in emphatic fashion, clobbered the UST Tigers, 25-19, 25-15, 25-21, while the Tams repulsed the National U Bulldogs in a thriller of a five-setter, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 25-22, 16-14.
Ateneo and FEU gun for the clincher on Saturday.
8 a.m. – FEU vs NU (men’s)
10 a.m. – UST vs ADMU
4 p.m. – FEU vs AdU (women’s)
6:30 p.m. – NU vs AU