Jaja Santiago suited up for National U at the last minute and the Lady Bulldogs smothered Lyceum of the Philippines University, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21, to gain an early share of Group A lead in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan yesterday.
Out of the NU roster days before the season-ending conference of the league, Santiago showed up and led the Lady Bulldogs’ romp over their overmatched rivals with 11 hits as they joined fellow UAAP teams Ateneo and Far Eastern U in the early lead in their side of the two-division tournament organized by Sports Vision.
Bannered by the mainstays of the BaliPure team that won the recent Open Conference crown, the Lady Bulldogs sized up the Lady Pirates in the early going of the first two sets then imposed their will to post a pair of lopsided set wins.
The Lady Pirates tried to put up a fight in the third but after pulling to within 21-23, the Lady Bulldogs finished them off with a down-the-line hit and a Lyceum spike that went wide.
Risa Sato, Aiko Urdas, Jorelle Singh and ace playmaker Jasmine Nabor, who helped anchor the Water Defenders’ breakthrough win in the Open Conference of the league supported by Mikasa and Asics, backed Santiago with big games with Sato also finishing with 11 markers and Urdas chipping in five kills.
Nabor, on the other hand, produced 27 excellent sets, including her quick sets for the 6-5 Santiago and Sato.
The win also served as a fitting welcome for new coach Raymond Castillo, who took over from Roger Gorayeb, who stayed with the San Sebastian side, while Lyceum, back in the Sports Vision-organized league after its last stint in 2011, showed up with seasoned mentor Emil Lontoc.
But the Lady Bulldogs’ experience and deep bench proved too much for the young Lady Pirates, who drew eight points from Rosalyn Hongria and were supported by some of the members of the unbeaten Lyceum Pirates in NCAA basketball.
In men’s play, UST posted its second straight shut-out win, beating La Salle, 25-17, 25-13, 25-22, to gain the early Group A lead while University of the Philippines bounced back from its previous 0-3 loss to the España-based school with a tough 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 21-25, 16-14 escape over St. Benilde.