Despite the erratic performances from their liberos and backline, the National University Lady Bulldogs still had enough firepower to outlast the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-15, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21, to remain in the hunt for a Final Four spot, Sunday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Bulldogs started slow but powered through the late stretches of the first set to take a 1-0 lead. NU’s miscues took their toll in the second set, with the Lady Warriors grabbing a 16-8 lead. However, NU mustered a late comeback, slowly plucking away at UE’s lead to take a 23-20 lead and the set.
NU seemed to have a straight-sets win in hand, leading the third set 8-3. But aces then began to pour in for the Lady Warriors, with Shaya Adorador, Roselle Baliton, and Glayssa Bendong each providing two. With UE ahead 23-17, the Lady Bulldogs tried a last ditch run, taking the next four points despite not fielding a libero. But the Lady Warriors had a finishing push in the wait, with Baliton and Judith Abil taking the last two points.
Still without a libero, the Lady Bulldogs fared better in the fourth set. Serving well, the Lady Bulldogs kept UE at bay, setting up Jaja Santiago’s three-point, match-finishing flourish.
“Mas maganda pa ang nilaro namin noong walang libero. Sabi ko nga sa kanila [libero] hindi puwedeng sa ilang punto lang kayo tutulong, kailangan lahat ng punto makatulong kayo lagi sa depensa,” said NU head coach Roger Gorayeb.
Although the Lady Bulldogs out-blocked UE, the second best blocking team in the league, 12-1, the Lady Warriors equalized with a 13-6 service ace tally. NU also surrendered 37 errors but made up for it with 52 attack points to UE’s 31.
National Team stalwart Santiago poured in a game-high 23 on 20-for-26 attacking points, while Jorelle Singh added 17.
NU improve to 6-4 and faces league-leading Ateneo de Manila University (9-1) on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Shaya Adorador led the Lady Warriors with 16 points, while Judith Abil added 10.
UE remains at seventh with a 1-9 slate. They face the De La Salle University Lady Spikers (7-2) on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
NU (3) – Santiago 23, Singh 17, Sato 10, Nabor 8, Urdas 8, Doromal 8, Paran 1, Doria 0, Valdez (L), Chavez (L)
UE (1) – Adorador 16, Abil 10, Baliton 5, Mendrez 4, Rodriguez 3, Alcayde 2, Catindig 2, Gabrada 2, Bendong 1, Dacaymat 0, Arado (L)