Lady Bulldogs foil Tigresses in 5, wrest lead
2 p.m. – SWU vs St. Benilde
4 p.m. – Perpetual Help vs San Sebastian
Defending champion National University blew a two-set lead but came through with a strong start and a stronger finishing kick in the decider to repulse University of Santo Tomas, 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 15-10, and seize the solo lead in Group B in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Dindin Santiago took charge in the fifth frame, scoring off the block and a kill while Ivy Perez and Carmina Aganon delivered the last two points in the Lady Bulldogs’ fiery four-point windup that finished off the Tigresses, who fell 1-5 but threatened to within at 10-11.
NU coach Ariel dela Cruz, a former national team player who took over the reins last year, said keeping their composure in the fifth set proved to be the key in their second straight win after sweeping reigning NCAA champion Perpetual Help in last week’s opener of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
“We didn’t panic, we kept our cool, that really helped us,” said dela Cruz, then a consultant to interim coach Ejjet Mabbayad when NU bested Ateneo in three games to reign here last year.
After the Tigresses battled from five points down to pull within, 10-11, the 6-3 Santiago scored a pair of hits – an off-the-block spike against UST’s Carmela Tunay and an unmolested kill that helped quash the Tigresses’ late rally and seal the Lady Bulldogs’ victory.
Perez then unloaded a serve that hit the net but which rolled over to the UST side before Aganon blasted away a vicious kill to wrap up the two-hour, three-minute encounter.
Aganon wound up a topscoring 17 hits while Jaja Santiago, the 6-6 younger sister of Dindin, fired 14, including five blocks.
Dindin, Aiko Urdas, and Myla Pablo chipped in 11 apiece while Perez added nine hits.
It was a sorry setback for the Tigresses, the winningest team in the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil, who came roaring back from two sets down to force a decider largely behind rookie guest player EJ Laure.
Laure, a daughter of PBA veteran and former MBA star Eddie and a recent high school graduate at UST who was allowed to play as a guest player, debuted with a bang as she unloaded a game-high 23 points, including 22 kills.
After her superb performance, the 16-year-old Laure became an instant hit and a top trending topic on Twitter while gained the admiration of many volley fans, including the NU coach.
“She didn’t look like a high school player because she plays like a veteran,” said dela Cruz of UST’s prized find.
Interestingly, Pamela Lastimosa and Marivic Meneses, who scored 16 and 14, respectively, are also second generation players being nieces of former PBA stars Jojo Lastimosa and now Jose Rizal coach Vergel Meneses.
Meanwhile, the UST-NU duel will be aired on GMA News TV starting at 1 p.m. tomorrow (Tuesday) while the Ateneo-Arellano clash will be shown Wednesday, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Arellano U survived a furious Ateneo fightback as it escaped with a shock 21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-20, 15-13 victory to grab the solo lead in Group A with two wins.
Danna Henson and Christine Joy Rosario fired 14 hits apiece, banging in the bulk of their output in the decider where the Lady Chiefs weathered a late Ateneo comeback to annex a steal of a win.
The Lady Eagles, the reigning UAAP champions and the heavy favorites to contend for the title here, fell to 1-1.
Alyssa Valdez, the reigning UAAP MVP, came away with 20 hits, spearheading the Loyola-based squad’s fightback from a six-point deficit to snatch a 13-12 lead.
But the Lady Chiefs refused to give and took the last three points on a Valdez mishit, an Ateneo net interference and a Henson kill.(pr)