MANILA, Philippines – With loss after loss, it seemed like it took forever before the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs tasted victory again.
After finishing on top of the first round, the Lady Bulldogs suffered a 5-game losing streak that sent them to 4th place in the standings.
But they finally broke the skid with their first win in the second round, against the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors on Sunday, April 8.
According to NU captain Jaja Santiago, the Lady Bulldogs battled through an emotional second round after experiencing continuous defeats.
"Sobrang bigat. Tipong kada training, iniisip namin na, 'Hindi, kaya natin 'to, kaya natin 'to.' Pero alam mo 'yun, parang may humihila sa 'yo na, 'Wala na, wala na 'yang pag-asa,'" recalled Santiago.
(Super heavy. Like every training, we were thinking that, "No, we can do this, we can do this." But you know, there was also something pulling us down, as if saying, "There's no more, there's no more hope.")
The Lady Bulldogs, however, found hope in one another.
"Pero nakikita mo naman sa bawat isa na wala talagang sumusuko, kahit minsan nagkaka-iyakan na kami, na ano'ng nangyayari, ano'ng kulang, bakit gano'n," Santiago said.
(But we saw that no one was giving up, even if we were already crying about what happened, what was lacking, and why it was like that.)
It was also painful for NU's main setter Jasmine Nabor to see her teammates failing to convert their attacks.
Sunday's win meant so much to Nabor because they were able to come together, pull off their game plan, and complete their goal of making it to the playoffs.
"'Yung mga pinag-usapan po namin, na-apply namin kanina sa loob ng court, na kahit lamang 'yung kalaban, push pa rin kami. Naramdaman ko 'yung bawat isa sa amin," she said.
(The ones that we talked about, we were able to apply those on the court, including pushing even though the opponent was leading. I felt the contributions of each person on our team.)
Santiago led the Lady Bulldogs with 22 points off 18 spikes, 3 blocks, and one ace, while Nabor stepped up to make 41 excellent sets.
The journey is not over yet for the Lady Bulldogs, however, as they have yet to secure a spot in the Final 4 that could be done if they defeat the semifinals-bound Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws next Sunday, April 15.
Both Nabor and Santiago believe a Final 4 berth would allow them to turn to a new chapter in their Season 80 campaign.
"Basta makapasok kami ng Final 4, okay na, kasi pagdating ng Final 4... ibang [kuwento] naman 'yun eh," said Nabor.
(As long as we make it to the Final 4, it'll be okay, because in the Final 4, it's going to be a different story.) – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.