MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs overcame an inspired challenge by the Adamson Lady Falcon in four sets to notch their 12th win of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament Sunday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs stumbled in the opener before recovering in the second and third sets to firmly take control. In the fourth set, however, they had to fight off a tremendous challenge by the Lady Falcons, who reached set point six times before succumbing.
NU would eventually win with scores of 15-25, 25-23, 25-20, and 34-32.
The Lady Falcons were clearly more energized to start the match, with veteran Shiela Pineda repeatedly powering attacks even through three NU blockers. The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, were sorely lacking in terms of floor defense, with no coverage behind their blockers.
With Pineda leading the charge, Adamson zoomed to a 10-3 lead and never looked back, eventually leading by as much as 10 points to win 25-15.
NU’s blocking was much improved in the second set, with towering rookie Jaja Santiago now able to accurately time the attacks of Pineda and Mayette Zapanta. After trailing early, NU was able to take the lead thanks to kills from skipper DinDin Santiago and veteran Mina Aganon.
Adamson’s energy clearly was flagging by the third set, and NU rolled to a 24-16 lead before hitting errors by DinDin allowed the Lady Falcons to save four set points. Myla Pablo ended any thoughts of a comeback, however, with a down-the-line hit that put NU up two sets to one.
The fourth set was an instant classic, with the two teams exchanging points all throughout and neither team leading by more than two points. Adamson reached set point first, 24-23, when Pablo misfired, but she made up for her error with another down-the-line attack that tied the set at 24-all.
It was back-and-forth from then on, as Adamson reached set point six times, the last at 30-29 when team captain Marleen Cortel found an empty spot in the NU backcourt. Jaja then tied the set by scoring on the second touch, and a hitting error by Pineda put NU at match point for the third time in the set.
Rookie Mylene Paat blocked an NU attack to briefly keep Adamson alive, but committed a service error to put NU at match point again. An error by Faye Guevara finally ended the set and sealed the win for the Lady Bulldogs.
DinDin finished with 21 points on 19 attacks and two blocks, while younger sister Jaja had 12 points, including four blocks. Pablo and Aganon each scored 14 points.
Pineda had 25 points for Adamson, but uncharacteristically committed several service errors. Zapanta had 15 and Cortel finished with 11 points for Adamson.
NU now has a 12-1 win-loss record heading into their highly anticipated rematch with the still-undefeated defending champions De La Salle University on February 15.
Adamson, meanwhile, failed to capitalize on the upset loss of the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (FEU) earlier in the day. Both Adamson and FEU still have identical 6-7 records and are fighting over the final spot in the Final Four.
Ateneo, at 8-4, has secured the third spot in the Final Four.