By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs halted a telling five-game losing streak in the second round of UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball with a straight-sets victory over the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors yesterday that also saw them infuse life back to their playoff push.
Displaying more bounce and focus to their game, the Lady Bulldogs made short work of the already-eliminated Lady Warriors to notch the 26-24, 26-24 and 25-20 victory and earn their first win in the second round of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) tournament and improve to 7-6 that has the team now a step closer to advancing to the next round.
The opening set was tightly fought with both teams going back and forth, looking to dictate the tempo of the contest.
UE would be first to set point, 24-22, but saw a determined NU crew rally back, led by skipper Jaja Santiago, tying the count at 24-all before scoring the next two points to pull the rug from under the Lady Warriors and go one set up.
The Lady Bulldogs sustained their strong finish in the first set at the start of the second frame, racing to a 16-10 lead by the second technical timeout.
UE then went on a 10-6 run to narrow the gap, 22-20, before eventually tying the score at 24-all.
But like the first set, Santiago came to the rescue of the Lady Bulldogs, accounting for the next two points to push her team two sets up over the Lady Warriors.
NU opened the third set with four quick points, which it used as a jump-off point to build an 8-3 lead by the first technical break.
The Lady Warriors showed fight thereafter, outscoring the Lady Bulldogs, 6-1, to level the score at 9-all.
It proved to be a temporary stupor by NU as it buried UE anew with a 7-3 blast for a 16-12 lead by the halfway mark.
Like in the first two sets, the Lady Warriors were not go down without a fight, coming within three points, 23-20.
They would not go any closer than that though as NU went for the closeout thereafter and book the win.
Santiago led the way for the Lady Bulldogs with 22 points with Risa Sato adding 13 and Roselyn Doria nine points.
UE (2-10), for its part, was paced by Meann Mendrez with 14 and Shaya Adorador with 11.
“We have been losing of late and we just kept our focus. We’re happy with the win,” said Sato, named player of the game, following their win.
With the victory, NU effectively eliminated the University of the Philippines Lady Fighting Maroons (5-8) and University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (4-8) from the Final Four race.
The Adamson Lady Falcons are now the lone team left outside looking in with a 5-7 record and angling to catch the last bus to the playoffs via the backdoor and join already qualified De La Salle Lady Spikers, Ateneo Lady Eagles and Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws.
NU plays its last game in the elimination round on April 15 against FEU with UE playing next on Wednesday, April 11, also against the Lady Tamaraws.