NU shocks Ateneo in straight sets, extends V-League finals

Jane Bracher
NU shocks Ateneo in straight sets, extends V-League finals
The NU Lady Bulldogs bounces back from a game 1 sweep with their own straight-set victory over the favored Ateneo Lady Eagles

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – National University shocked Ateneo de Manila University with a 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 sweep to force a rubber match for the Shakey’s V-League 12 Collegiate Conference championship on Sunday, September 27 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The Lady Bulldogs gave the Lady Eagles a taste of their own medicine, bouncing back from a similar straight set victory last week in game 1 of the finals.

“I think it’s because of our teamwork, we played together,” veteran Myla Pablo spoke of the unexpected sweep in Filipino during the broadcast interview. She culled all 12 of her points off attacks. 

“We told ourselves that if they can beat us in straight sets, we can do it too.”

Jaja Santiago led all Lady Bulldogs with 13 points on 8 kills and 4 service aces. Her sister and comebacking guest player Dindin Manabat contributed 12 markers including a superb performance at the net with 5 blocks. Manabat returned for NU after missing game 1 as she played for Petron Blaze in the Asian Club Volleyball Championship in Vietnam.

Jorelle Singh chipped in 8 points while guest player and setter Rubie De Leon constantly outwitted Ateneo with smart distribution of offense to post 28 excellent sets.

NU stayed consistent from start to finish despite Ateneo making some runs at several junctures. The Lady Bulldogs’ offense nicely complemented their persistent defense as they handily read the Lady Eagles’ plays all game long.

“I told them that win or lose, we should learn something from this tournament because we are really preparing for the UAAP,” head coach Roger Gorayeb said in a mix of Filipino and English in the broadcast interview.

“Their confidence level should always be high. I told them that if we lose, we should lose only because our opponent is too strong. To lose due to any other reason can easily ruin the team’s confidence. I told them if they lose they must still learn something.”

The Lady Bulldogs certainly learned a lot from the game 1 loss. They barely allowed their foes to gain a real semblance of momentum or rhythm and did not relax even as they took a 2-0 set lead.

For all 3 sets NU started off strong as Ateneo struggled with service reception. The Lady Eagles, which once rode a 10-game winning streak through this tournament before it was snapped by UST in the semifinals, trailed by 17-10 in the third set.

Ateneo rallied to within 17-15 but a violation and an attacking error snuffed their momentum right away as NU held the edge, 19-15. The Lady Bulldogs would never give their foes any more hope of forcing a fourth set from that point on.

No Lady Eagle reached double figures as conference MVP Alyssa Valdez was silenced to just 9 points in the match that lasted an hour and 23 minutes.

Bea De Leon, Jhoanna Maraguinot, Kim Gequillana and Amy Ahomiro each had 6 points for Ateneo.

Middle hitter De Leon sat out most of the third set reportedly with a nosebleed as she claimed she felt dizzy. Her nape and neck were iced on the bench.

The deciding game 3 will be played on Sunday, October 4. –

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