National University (NU) pulled off a thrilling comeback 26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 25-17, 16-14 victory over De La Salle University to remain unscathed in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 women’s volleyball on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Bulldogs roared their way back from a four-point deficit in the decisive set before star spiker Jaja Santiago and Aiko Urdas took charge down the crucial stretch.
With its stunning win over the defending champion, NU kept its pristine record in four games along with its hold of the top spot.
Santiago flaunted her attacking prowess anew as the 6-foot-5 belle exploded with 27 points built on 20 spikes, four blocks and three service aces.
The Lady Spikers absorbed their first loss after a rousing three-win start to their title-retention campaign.
NU almost squandered a seven-point lead in the opening set after a (Michelle) Cobb-led La Salle forged a 24-24 deadlock. Urdas and Doria took charge to hand the Bulldogs an early one-set advantage.
The Lady Spikers forced a tight contest in the second set before breaking away from a 19-all tie with six straight points anchored on a strong offense.
La Salle sustained its form to snag the third set but NU strongly bounced back in the following set, setting the stage for a nail-biting fifth.
Staring at an 8-12 deficit, Santiago came up with a block to cap a four-point run that knotted the scoreline. The lanky attacker gave the first match point for the Lady Bulldogs, 14-13, but Dy answered back to keep the Lady Spikers alive.
Santiago, however, unloaded a furious smash before Urdas sealed the win with a nifty ace.
Earlier, in the men’s division, NU made quick work of La Salle, 27-25, 25-16, 25-20, to post its second straight victory while University of Sto. Tomas (UST) pulled off a 25-20, 25-21, 14-25, 25-22 victory over Adamson University.
Bryan Bagunas topscored with 16 points while Ismail Fauzi and James Natividad added 12 markers each as the Bulldogs posted back-to-back wins.
The Tigers, on the other hand, banked on Arnold Bautista, Joshua Umandal and Jayvee Sumagaysay, who tallied 16, 12 and 10 points, respectively.
With their respective wins, NU and UST moved to a joint second with Ateneo De Manila University on identical 3-1 slates.
The Green Spikers and the Soaring Falcons stumbled on a share of the fifth spot with University of the Philippines as all three teams now have dismal 1-3 sheets.