Lady Bulldogs looking to equalize

Game Sunday
1 p.m. – UST vs Adamson (best-of-three for third)
3 p.m. – FEU vs NU (best-of-three for crown)

National U hopes the long break in the Shakey’s V-League Finals would benefit the team more than Far Eastern U in terms of adjustment and approach on how to neutralize each other’s strengths and cash in on each other’s weaknesses when Game Two is held Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
But one thing that could go against the Lady Bulldogs is the continued absence of Aiko Urdas, a vital cog in NU’s frontline rotation, who is out with a knee injury. She missed the opener of the best-of-three series last Sunday which the Lady Tams took, 26-24, 26-24, 25-22, to move in the threshold of history in the country’s premier women’s league sponsored by Shakey’s.
With Urdas unlikely to be back in harness, NU coach Ariel dela Cruz will have to look for other options if ever his two main hitters – sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago – are shackled again by the tough FEU defenders the way they did in Game One.
But dela Cruz is more concerned of his wards’ tendency to waver at the finish, particularly in down-to-the-wire endgames, while stressing the need to come out strong in each set in a bid to force a sudden death and keep their title-retention bid going.
“We need to be aggressive from the start and try to learn to finish sets,” said Dela Cruz after the Lady Bulldogs floundered in two extended sets in Game One before losing steam in the third frame.
The NU mentor also said they need to toughen up on defense, particularly against Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga, two late FEU reinforcements who have been providing the firepower and spunk for the Morayta-based spikers in the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
“We slackened a bit in our defense, particularly at endgame,” he said. “But it’s not too late to get back.”
That guarantees a strong NU fightback in Game Two with the Santiago sisters also expected to dominate and Myla Pablo, Rizza Mandapat, Gayle Valdez, libero Jen Reyes and ace setter Rubie de Leon also hoping to step up their respective games.
Meanwhile, Game Two of the finals set at 3 p.m. will be shown live on GMA News TV Channel, according to the organizing Sports Vision, with Adamson likewise trying to wrap up its own best-of-three series for third with UST at 1 p.m.
The sudden death, if necessary, will be played on June 1.
NU is trying to become only the third team in league history to win back-to-back First Conference titles after La Salle in Seasons 2 and 3 and UST in Seasons 6 and 7.(pr)


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