NU survives a scare off Ateneo, snares second twice-to-beat incentive

NU survives a scare off Ateneo, snares second twice-to-beat incentive

NU survives a scare off Ateneo, snares second twice-to-beat incentive

Standings W L
*DLSU 13 1
*NU 11 3
*AdU 9 4
*UST 9 4
FEU 6 7
Ateneo 4 10
UP 1 12
UE 1 13
*Final Four

Games today
(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
9 a.m. – AdU vs FEU (Men)
11 a.m. – AdU vs FEU (Women)
3 p.m. – UP vs UST (Women)
5 p.m. – UP vs UST (Men)

MANILA — National University survived a scare at the hands of Ateneo de Manila University on Saturday to snatch the second twice-to-beat incentive in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

The Katipunan-based Lady Blue Eagles were already out of it all as far as the Final Four is concerned but they made their final assignment against Lady Bulldogs a memorable one.

NU was stretched to the hilt before claiming a five-set 21-25, 28-30, 25-14, 25-13, and 15-13 victory, the Lady Bulldogs’ sixth straight.

And with it, NU finished the elimination round with an 11-3 record.

Reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen lived up to her billing by dropping 26 points, including the match-clinching spike that put icing on the Bulldogs’ impressive fightback from two sets down and frustrate the also-ran Blue Eagles in finishing the season strong.

The Lady Bulldogs’ male counterparts made it a double victory for NU as its three-peat-seeking men’s team completed a 14-0 elimination round sweep and jumped straight to the Finals after the same squad 25-11, 28-26, 16-25, 25-23.

Mike Buddin led the Bulldogs’ attack with 19 points, including the match-winning kill that sent NU to their eighth consecutive championship appearance. The rookie from NU-Nazareth program also had four service aces, 15 receptions, and nine digs.

The Lady Bulldogs, who went 16-0 last season to end a 65-year championship drought, finished second in the eliminations with an 11-3 record behind league leader La Salle which got another splendid performance from rookie Angel Canino who produced 13 points, including two service aces and two blocks, and eight digs, more than enough to repulse University of the East, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.

As such, the Lady Spikers finished the eliminations with a 13-1 slate, La Salle’s best elimination round record since going 14-0 in the 2013-14 season.

The top-ranked Lady Spikers’ semis foe will only be determined today and so with the Lady Bulldogs.

NU’s opponent will also depend on the outcome of the final elimination round matchday, as Adamson plays Far Eastern University at 11 a.m., and the University of Santo Tomas takes on the University of the Philippines at 3 p.m.

The Lady Falcons and the Tigresses are tied in third and fourth spots at 9-4.

“We’re very happy kasi nakuha na po namin yung twice-to-beat this season pero despite that po, meron pa rin kaming kailangan iimprove lalo na sa game ngayon which is yung pagstart dapat namin nang maayos kasi nung first and second set po hindi po kami gaano katutok sa game,” said Belen, who unleashed 25-of-54 attacks, to go along with 19 receptions and 15 digs.

Alyssa Solomon backed up Belen with 25 points on 22-of-46 attacks and fired two service aces.

Camilla Lamina, who tossed 17 excellent sets, also activated middles Erin Pangilinan and Sheena Toring with 13 points apiece while Robles made 11 points.

Pangilinan and Toring combined for eight of the Lady Bulldogs’ 10 blocks.

Assistant coach Noel Orcullo was happy with the way the Lady Spikers performed against a Lady Warriors side seeking to end their season with back-to-back wins.

“Yun din naman yung sinabi namin na mindset sa kanila before this game na yung UE wala nang mawawala sa kanila, hindi tayo pupwedeng mag-relax. Sinabi lang namin paghandaan yung dadating na semis kaya kailangan all out tayo ngayong last game natin,” said Orcullo after La Salle extended its winning run to four matches.

Jolina dela Cruz added eight points and seven digs while Alleiah Malaluan, given more court time, started in the second set and finished with six points for the Lady Spikers.

In her final game for the Blue Eagles, Vanie Gandler had two service aces to finish with 20 points and logged 16 receptions, while Nisperos added 17 points, including three blocks, and eight digs.

Ateneo libero Roma Mae Doromal also delivered with 22 digs and 14 excellent receptions while AC Miner matched Nisperos’ three blocks for a 12-point showing.

The Blue Eagles, who ended at sixth with a 4-10 record, wanted to finish the season strong by winning the first two sets before the Lady Bulldogs rediscovered their championship poise to prevail in the two-hour, 48-minute contest.

“I think yung school pride, diyan papasok,” said Belen. “Ateneo has nothing lose na po talaga. Sila, gustong ibigay ang best nila sa game and dapat ganoon din kami. Hindi kami dapat magpapatibag sa ganoon.”

The Lady Warriors, who defeated the Fighting Maroons to end a 12-match slide, settled for a 1-13 record for the season.

Khy Cepada led the Lady Warriors with 16 points, fellow newcomer Van Bangayan contributed 10 points and nine digs while Ja Lana had two service aces for an eight-point effort and had eight receptions for UE.

Kenry Malinis had a match-best four blocks for a 17-point outing, Nico Almendras added 12 points while setter Josh Retamar tossed in 22 excellent sets and scored two of his four points from blocks for NU.

“Credit sa mga players ko na talagang tinrabaho namin itong elimination na ito although siyempre hindi pa namin natatapos, kailangan pa naming tapusin itong season na ito,” said coach Dante Alinsunurin as the Bulldogs extended their winning run to 32 matches.

The Bulldogs were able to overcome Ken Batas’ 32-point outburst for the Blue Eagles, who were pushed on the brink on the brink of elimination with a 7-7 slate. Jian Salarzon was held to just 14 points.

(Amado Inigo/MTVN)

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