MANILA, Philippines – National University (NU) leaned on a superb performance from Jaja Santiago to turn back a gutsy University of the East (UE) squad in four sets, and stay unbeaten in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament.
The towering Santiago was virtually unstoppable as she towed the Lady Bulldogs to a 25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19 triumph on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
NU improved to 3-0 in the tournament, seizing the solo lead once more. UE, meanwhile, dropped to 0-3. The Lady Warriors have lost 10 straight matches since Season 79, and have bowed to NU for 16 consecutive matches since Season 72.
Santiago had 23 points built on 18 attacks and four kill blocks, while Roselyn Doria added 12 points. Jasmin Nabor had 40 excellent sets and the Lady Bulldogs came up with 41 attack points in the game.
“This was a good win, but it’s not a good performance,” admitted NU coach Babes Castillo, who has yet to experience a loss as the Lady Bulldogs’ coach since he took over last year. “But a win is a win.”
NU cruised to a comfortable 10-point win in the opening frame, but the Lady Warriors came out with renewed fire in the second set. UE secured the shock win by scoring the final six points of Set 2, four of which came off the Lady Bulldogs’ own errors.
Brimming with confidence after a strong performance in the second set, the Lady Warriors went toe-to-toe with NU for most of the third frame an even led by two points, 22-20, late in the set. That was when Santiago teamed up with setter Jasmin Nabor to help the Lady Bulldogs regain control.
Nabor followed up a 1-2 play by serving up an ace, and Santiago proceeded to score NU’s last two points of the set for a 25-23 triumph.
“(I told them to) forget about the second set and let’s move on,” said Castillo of his advice to the Lady Bulldogs. “You have to take another approach. We have to give our 100%, because in the second set, 50% ang performance namin.”
It was all NU in the fourth frame, with Santiago dropping darts from all angles. They led by as much as 10-points, 23-13, before a late UE run helped the Lady Warriors threaten late. The deficit was simply too big, however, and kills by Santiago and Aiko Urdas wrapped up the win for the Lady Bulldogs.
Mary Ann Mendrez and Shaya Adorador each had 11 points for UE, while libero Kath Arado had a 36-dig performance.
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