MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) National University (NU) ended its losing streak in style on Wednesday, as the Lady Bulldogs shocked University of the Philippines (UP) in a five-set thriller at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs recovered from a one-set deficit, then saved four match points in a stunning 25-17, 14-25, 17-25, 25-23, 17-15 victory over the Lady Maroons.
It was only NU's second victory in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament, and ended a three-match losing streak.
"Hindi ko rin ma-explain kung ano ang nangyari sa game," admitted NU coach Norman Miguel, who grabbed the biggest win of his young coaching career in the women's division. "Tiniyaga lang at in-enjoy."
"Worth it po lahat ng pinaghirapan namin, 'yung sacrifices at effort ng bawat isa," beamed libero Jennifer Nierva, who earned Player of the Game honors with 26 digs and 29 receptions.
Rookie ace Princess Robles fired 17 points built on 10 kills and 7 aces, while another rookie star in Ivy Lacsina contributed 16 points on 12 attacks and 4 blocks. Veteran middle blocker Roselyn Doria had 12 markers.
The Lady Bulldogs served notice of their intent with a 25-17 win in the first set, which saw them pepper UP with 9 aces and lead by as much as 10 points, 11-1. The Lady Maroons recovered in Sets 2 and 3, winning comfortably to regain control and move to the brink of a bounce-back win.
But the youthful NU team showed its grit in the fourth set, when they rallied from an 18-21 deficit to go ahead, 22-21. It was their service game that helped them get there, with Robles firing two aces in the 4-0 blast. Justine Dorog knotted the count for UP, before a Lacsina kill and an Isa Molde attack error put NU at set point, 24-22. Molde redeemed herself, finishing off a combination play to save a point for the Lady Maroons, but a service error by Jessma Ramos sent the match to a deciding frame.
It seemed as though UP's experience would win out in the fifth set, as they claimed a 9-6 advantage with skipper Tots Carlos stepping up while NU began committing errors. The Lady Bulldogs made it a one-point game, 10-11, off a Doria kill, but a Molde hit, an ace by Marist Layug, and a block by Aei Gannaban on Doria put the Lady Maroons at match point, 14-10.
A service error by Layug kept NU alive, and the substitution of Bingle Landicho proved to be crucial for the Lady Bulldogs. The rookie was solid at the service line, as NU racked up four more unanswered points -- two of which were from UP's errors. A crosscourt hit by Lacsina put the Lady Bulldogs at set point, 15-14, before Molde scored off the hands of Robles for the last deadlock of the game.
Lacsina came up clutch one more, firing yet another crosscourt hit, before Geline Luceno rejected Carlos at the net to wrap up the win for the Lady Bulldogs after two hours and 15 minutes.
"Sobrang happy ko po, lalo na 'yung mga unang set, hindi ko po mabigay 'yung laro ko," said Lacsina. "Pero sobrang thankful ako sa mga teammates ko, saka po sa mga coaches ko. Siyempre mahirap po siya pero sobrang worth it po talaga lahat."
The Lady Bulldogs won despite giving up a whopping 42 points off their unforced errors. They were helped by their 15 service aces.
Carlos and Dorog each scored 15 points for the Lady Maroons, while Molde finished with 13 markers. Carlos also had 25 digs and 7 receptions.
Unfortunately, the Lady Maroons were unable to capitalize on NU's error-strewn performance, and instead succumbed to their second consecutive defeat. At 3-3, UP currently sits in fifth place.
NU, at 2-4, is at No. 6.
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