National U recovered from a first-set meltdown with a sweep of the next three, turning back University of the Philippines, 23-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-19, yesterday to firm up its bid for the No. 1 spot in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena on Monday.
But the Lady Bulldogs needed to check their endgame foldup in the second and fourth frames on erratic plays then leaned on Jaja Santiago, Risa Sato and Jorelle Singh to thwart the Lady Maroons’ determined fightback, hack out the 92-minute victory and close out their quarterfinals campaign with a 4-1 card.
Far Eastern U, the other team in the semis of the mid-season conference of the league where it all started, totes a 3-1 mark.
UP dropped to 2-2 in a tie with San Sebastian with the Lady Maroons and the Lady Stags disputing the third semis berth tomorrow at the close of the single round quarters of the tournament sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
“We committed a lot of errors in the first set, including service faults,” said NU coach Edjet Mabbayad, who wards made a total of 36 miscues against their rivals’ 20 errors.
Santiago unloaded a 21-hit game, Aiko Urdas pumped in 16 kills for a 20-point output while Sato stepped up to fire 13 hits, including five aces, as the Lady Bulldogs stayed in the hunt for a second straight championship after sweeping the Ateneo Lady Eagles in sudden death in last year’s finale.
In the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference, Ateneo overwhelmed University of the Philippines, 25-21, 25-18, 25-12, to sweep Group B with a 5-0 and clinch the No. 1 spot in the Final Four.
Paul Koyfman scored 10 hits while Miguel Villanueva and Marck Espejo backed him up with eight markers apiece as the defending champions primed up for the semis against the No. 4 squad.
UP, led by Mark Millete’s seven points, dropped to 3-2 and will hope for a UST defeat to Emilio Aguinaldo College at the close of the elims tomorrow to force a tie for the No. 2 spot.
Earlier, St. Benilde thwarted Philippine Merchant Marine School, 25-17, 32-30, 29-27, to finish with a 1-4 slate. The Mariners dropped all their five matches.
Back in the V-League, NU actually dominated UP in spikes (60-46), blocks (9-2) and service (10-3) but the Lady Maroons just kept on coming back from huge deficits with their never-say-die spirit, stunning the Lady Bulldogs on a strong finish to steal the opening set.
NU led by 10 early in the second but UP rallied on Diana Carlos and Katherine Bersola’s hits, and aided by the Lady Bulldogs’ miscues, the Lady Maroons threatened at 19-22. But Santiago came up with back-to-back hits and setter Jasmine Nabong scored to clinch the win and tie the match at one.
The Lady Bulldogs broke away from a tight third set duel by rattling off three straight points to gain a 23-17 cushion but the Lady Maroons strung up four straight hits and took thee of the next four to force a 24-all count.
But NU broke the tie and Joy Doromal scored on a running attack to secure the win for a 2-1 count.
NU also controlled the fourth and appeared headed for a cruise after seizing a 21-17 lead. But UP won the next two points before Singh produced back-to-back crosscourt spikes and Nabor opted to swipe the ball instead of setting up their hitters that caught the Lady Maroons by surprise.
Carlos finished with 12 hits, Bersola added 11 markers and Marian Buitre, Isa Molde, Nicole Tiamzon and Justine Dorog combined for 26 points for UP, which hopes to recover in their make-or-break match against San Sebastian tomorrow.