NU sweeps UST, reaches Shakey’s V-L finals

NU’s Jaja Santiago towers over UST Jessey de Leon as she smashes a hit during Game Two of their Shakey’s V-League Final Four duel at The Arena in San Juan.(pr photo)
NU’s Jaja Santiago towers over UST Jessey de Leon as she smashes a hit during Game Two of their Shakey’s V-League Final Four duel at The Arena in San Juan.(pr photo)

National University pounded University of Santo Tomas with its power game and imposing net defense to essay a 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 repeat victory and book a return trip to the finals of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Towering sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago sustained their fierce form and dished out a pair of 14-hit games while Carmin Aganon rammed in 12 points as the Lady Bulldogs got past the Tigresses for the second straight time in three days to stay on track of their title-retention bid in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Like in their 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22 triumph in the opener of their best-of-three semis series last Sunday, the defending champions bucked a number of miscues with their awesome hitting power, superb court coverage and daunting defense upfront anchored on Myla Pablo, who came through with four blocks and finished with nine markers.
The outcome would have been a lopsided one if not for the Lady Bulldogs miscues.
“Everytime we are on the verge of pulling away, we would commit errors. We’re to blame that we’re allowing them to bounce back,” said NU coach Ariel dela Cruz in Filipino.
NU produced 41 kills in the 80-minute encounter as against UST’s 31 with the Lady Bulldogs’ blockers making life tougher for UST’s hitters, including ace rookie Ennajie Laure, who was held to 10 hits after averaging 16.
Despite the sweep, Dela Cruz still stressed the need for his wards to raise the level of their game a notch higher as they head to the finals of the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
“We can’t afford to play like this in the championship, we have to step up our game in the finals,” said Dela Cruz.
Pablo teamed up with the 6-3 Jaja in neutralizing Laure, combing for six blocks.
“I always tell my players that its our defense that will bring us to the finals and I’m glad they listened,” said dela Cruz.
What made the win impressive was that NU played without top spiker Aiko Urdas, who sustained a knee injury in the third set of their Game One triumph.
Pam Lastimosa did finish with 11 points but the rest of the Tigresses failed to provide the needed support with Rhea Dimaculangan adding six markers and Jessey de Leon and top blocker Marivic Meneses chipping in five points each.
But while NU advanced, Far Eastern U stalled Adamson as the Lady Tams pulled off a 25-22, 25-23, 26-24 victory to force a sudden death for the other championship berth.
FEU and Adamson go at it again tomorrow starting at 4 p.m.
Bernadette Pons stepped up to provide the needed help to reinforcements Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga, firing a match best 16 hits, including three service aces and blocks to help the Lady Tams bounce back from a heartbreaking 19-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-15, 15-12 loss in the opener of their side of the best-of-three series.
The pretty pair of Daquis and Gonzaga, playing out of Philippine Army, combined for 29 hits, including 26 on kills.
Shiela Pineda punched in 15 hits and Thai import Pacharee Sangmuang blasted 10 kills for a 12-point effort and Pau Soriano added 10 markers for the Lady Falcons, who were outsteadied at endgame by the Lady Tams in each of the three sets.(pr)

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