Quick Hit: NU prevails, Ateneo shocked in V-League

Volleyball writers Levi Verora and Jane Bracher break down Shakey's V-League action from Sunday

EAGLES CLIPPED. Christine Rosario of Arellano spikes the ball past Ateneo blockers Alyssa Valdez (R) and Amy Ahomiro (L). Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – In an exciting pair of five-set thrillers on Sunday, March 30, National University and Arellano University escaped with hard-earned wins as both squads had to go the full distance before eclipsing their opponents in the 11th Shakey’s V-League First Conference.

Both squads remained unbeaten in their respective groups.

National U 3-2 UST

25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 15-10

The Best: What the Lady Bulldogs can take away from their second match is the very experience of being threatened right away. As defending champions who cruised to their first win via a 3-set sweep of Perpetual Help, it’s important for them to learn early on that things won’t be easy. They had difficulty closing out this game, winning the first two cantos and allowing the Tigresses to gain momentum in the third and fourth sets to force a fifth. Their general on-court demeanor for this game was more relaxed. They didn’t show much of the feistiness and swagger they usually displayed in the UAAP and even in past V-League conferences. And while playing relaxed is not necessarily a bad thing, there must still be some sense of urgency and purpose at the same time – a lesson they want to learn if they want to repeat as champions.

The Worst: For both teams, the worst is simply the errors – the service errors for that matter. The first set was played at the pace of services. They exchanged service errors all game long. Both NU and UST could barely execute fluid offense and even their attacks came up soft sometimes. Those service errors eventually became crucial turning points down the stretch for both teams. A good service or a service error became a momentum-shifter. Carmela Tunay wasn’t particularly feeling it from the service deck and the Lady Bulldogs, despite winning, still gave 27 points off errors to the Tigresses. While UST gave away even more with 33 points to NU.

A new era for UST?: Despite the loss, this game was indicative of what UST’s future might hold. Their guest player EJ Laure came out firing despite a losing cause for 23 points on 22 kills. Laure, a product of UST High School and an incoming freshmen for UST next season, kept the Tigresses in the game and riddled NU’s defense. No doubt she’s the one to watch out for next season. Whether she can lead the multi-titled UST back to its winning ways still remains to be answered. Though some might even dare start whispering that it could be the dawn of a new era for UST volleyball.

Arellano 3-2 Ateneo

21-25, 25-16, 17-25, 25-20, 15-13

The Best: Arellano’s open spiker Danna Henson showcased nerves of steel in the final two sets, particularly in the latter parts of the fourth and fifth frames where she would deliver the back-breaking spikes that helped the Lady Chiefs. Henson finished with 14 points on 12 spikes and 2 service aces.

The Worst: Ateneo committed an eye-popping 41 ERRORS, instantly giving 41 big points to Arellano throughout the match. A dismal showing in the second and fourth sets allowed their foes to catch up, gain confidence, and eventually steal the match in stunning fashion.

Stealthy strategy: After the game, Arellano mentor Roberto Javier said the girls focused on keeping their spikes away from the direction of Ateneo libero Denden Lazaro. The reigning UAAP best receiver and digger only managed 9 digs and without her to get good first balls for Ateneo, the Lady Eagles’ offense did not look as fluid as it could. – Rappler.com

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