By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE National University Lady Bulldogs dealt a huge blow to the UAAP Season 81 campaign of the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons with a five-sets win, 25-21, 26-24, 17-25, 23-25 and 17-15, on Sunday that effectively eliminated the latter from the Final Four race.
While they are out of the running for a spot in the semifinals of the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines season, it did not stop NU from playing the spoiler’s role, turning back UP in dig-deep fashion yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Maroons needed to sweep their remaining games to get at least a playoff for the last Final Four spot. The loss to NU blew their chances for that.
UP took early control of the contest, racing to an 8-6 lead by the first technical timeout.
The Lady Bulldogs though would not stay down for long as Ivy Lacsina, Jen Nierva and Audrey Paran started humming.
They overtook the Lady Maroons, 16-14, midway, before racing to claim the first set, 25-21.
NU picked up where it left off in the first and continued to maintain control to start the second frame, going on top, 8-6, at the onset.
The Lady Maroons would return the favor to the Lady Bulldogs, beating the latter to the halfway point, 16-14.
They, however, would not be able to take it all the way as NU showed tremendous grit to pull off a 26-24 set win to take a commanding 2-0 lead for the match.
Sensing their season was slipping away from them, Tots Carlos and the rest of the Maroons played with more urgency in the third set.
They built a 16-12 lead and sprinted to a 25-17 set win to narrow the gap, 2-1.
It was nip-and-tuck for the two teams to begin the fourth frame, fighting to an 8-7 count early with NU on top.
A BACK-AND-FORTH ENSUED
UP took a 16-15 lead and kept fending off a spirited challenge from NU the rest of the set to survive, 25-23, and force the decider.
Gotten a new lease on life, the Lady Maroons kept at it to take an 8-7 lead midway into the deciding set.
The match was tied at 11-all after and then at 14-all as the two teams did not want to lose their grip on the set.
But Paran and the Lady Bulldogs would not allow their efforts go to waste, going on a strong finish to book the win by claiming the set, 17-15.
Nierva was named player of the game after finishing with 27 excellent receptions and 30 digs for NU.
With the UP loss, the University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University, both sporting 8-4 records, got a free passage to the semifinals and leaving their encounter later yesterday one for positioning.
NU (4-9) and UP (6-7) will both end their season campaign on April 27 versus UST and Adamson University, respectively.