By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE University of the East Lady Warriors began their UAAP Season 81 second-round campaign on the right foot, chalking up a victory over the National University Lady Bulldogs in four sets on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Banking on the efforts of their veterans, the Lady Warriors exacted their will on the young Lady Bulldogs early on and held tight in the end to win, 25-16, 25-18, 24-26 and 25-16, and halt a four-game losing streak and improve to 2-6 in the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines season.
The contest started tight with the two teams fighting to an 8-7 count and UE on top at the end of the first technical timeout of the opening set.
Led by veterans Judith Abil and Lai Bendong, the Lady Warriors steadily created separation after.
They would build a 16-9 lead midway and never looked back to claim the frame, 25-16.
In the second set, UE continued to hold sway as it kept attacking NU’s defense.
It held a 16-8 advantage by the second technical break.
NU tried to fight back, led by rookie Princess Robles, but it could not get the break it wanted as it slumped to a 25-18 set defeat.
The Lady Bulldogs though began the third frame with more bite, standing toe to toe with their counterparts to edge their way to an 8-7 lead early on.
But like what they had been doing all game long, the Lady Warriors would find ways to swamp on NU.
Led by Mean Mendrez and Seth Rodriguez, UE overtook the Lady Bulldogs, 16-11, by the second technical timeout.
They stretched their lead to 20-14 before Robles and the Lady Bulldogs made a ferocious comeback to level the score at 24-all and force overdrive.
From there NU was just unstoppable, scoring the next two points to take the set and stay alive in the match.
Rocked in the previous set, UE came out sterner in the fourth frame to stay ahead, 8-6, at the onset.
The Lady Bulldogs kept the pressure on UE but the latter managed to keep its lead, 16-12, at the halfway juncture.
UE moved up, 20-14, but unlike in the third set it would keep its focus and steadied to the closeout and victory.
Mendrez paced the Lady Warriors with 19 points followed by Abil with 13 and Rodriguez 12.
Setter Bendong had seven markers to go along with 38 excellent sets.
Robles, meanwhile, led NU with 13 points with Ivy Lacsina adding 12 and Roselyn Doria 11.
“We really needed this win especially for our graduating players. If we cannot make it to the Final Four at least for our remaining games we want to perform better and leave something good to remember by this season,” said UE coach Karl Dimaculangan after their win.