NATIONAL University relied on sheer offensive might to retain the Shakey’s V-League Season Collegiate Conference crown.
Team captain Jaja Santiago was an unstoppable force from the middle of the net as the first option for quick attacks. Jorelle Singh and Risa Sato hammered open spikes across the net from either sideline. The three, along with setter Jasmine Nabor, formed an impenetrable shield at the net to score block points.
The Lady Bulldogs completed their back-to-back title romp with an emphatic 19-25, 25-18, 25-22, 21-25, 15-4 victory over the Lady Eagles in front of a cheering crowd at the Philsports Arena in Pasig last Wednesday, Sept. 14.
The Lady Bulldogs were so dominant at the offensive end all tournament long that they won four individual awards in addition to the championship.
Santiago was of course Most Valuable Player of the Conference and also the 1st Best Middle Blocker. Singh was named 2nd Best Outside Spiker. Setter Jasmine Nabor earned the Most Valuable Player of the Finals citation.
The Lady Bulldogs prevailed by executing in the decisive fifth set after they struggled in the fourth and early in the fifth. Singh and Nabor stepped up late in the match to back up Santiago.
Late in the fifth set, the Lady Eagles may have thought they had a chance to catch up after Santiago rotated to the back row. But Singh and Nabor quickly banished such thoughts as they scored NU’s last four attack points to power their team to victory.
Singh started to close out Ateneo after she hammered back-to-back hits bracketing Ateneo spiker Jhoanna Maraguinot’s error to give NU an insurmountable 13-4 lead in the fifth set.
The left-handed Nabor, a former spiker turned into a setter, faked setting the ball then blasted in a pair of spikes to finish off the Lady Eagles.
After the final score was made, confetti rained down from the ceiling, players embraced each other in celebration. NU fans rushed into court as a wild celebration ensued with NU players, officials and supporters joining the fun.
NU won its third crown, all at the expense of Ateneo, in the country’s premier women’s volleyball league sponsored by Shakey’s. Last year, the Lady Bulldogs beat the Lady Eagles in sudden death. After many fruitless campaigns NU finally had its breakthrough tournament in Season 10 in 2013.
Santiago—and the Lady Bulldogs—floundered in the early going as they yielded the opening frame.
But they dominated the second set and then took the third as well. The Lady Eagles won the fourth which sent the match into a deciding fifth set.
The Lady Bulldogs were all business in the deciding fifth set. They scored eight of the first 11 points, including four block points that set the early tone for NU’s lopsided victory in the fifth set.
A lengthy technical timeout was held early in the fifth with NU leading, 8-3. The break did not rattle the Lady Bulldogs. After resumption NU tallied the next seven points to tally the win.
Other winners of individual awards in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s were Ateneo’s Julia Morado (best setter), UP’s Isa Molde (best outside spiker), Ateneo’s Gizelle Tan (best libero), FEU’s Remy Joy Palma (second best middle blocker) and FEU’s Toni Rose Basas (best opposite spiker).
Not even the presence on the Ateneo bench of former ace Alyssa Valdez could help fire up the Lady Eagles. Santiago, Singh, Sato and setter Nabor were simply overwhelming.
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