NATIONAL University secured a spot in the six-team quarterfinals as it bested Ateneo, 25-18, 15-25, 26-24, 25-18, on Sunday in the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Jaja Santiago scored 14 points, while Rizza Mandapat and Myla Pablo added 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the Lady Bulldogs evened their win-loss record to 3-3.
“Ang bilin ko lang sa kanila maglaro lang sila for school and for God kasi sila ang nagdadala ng pangalan ng eskwelahan,” said NU coach Ariel de la Cruz.
NU moved into a tie for fourth with Philippine Air Force and join the Air Women, league-leading PLDT (6-1), Army (5-1) and Cagayan Valley (5-1), with one slot remaining in the next phase of the tournament.
From a slim two-point advantage, 10-8, NU extended the lead, 16-10, from Jorelle Singh, Myla Pablo and four miscues of Ateneo in the fourth set.
The Lady Eagles inched closer, 14-16, after Alyssa Valdez regained composure but NU held on.
“Nag-focus lang kami sa depensa, lalo na sa blocking, kasi ’yung floor defense namin ’di pa gaanong pulido,” said De la cruz. “Tapos ’yung Ateneo medyo madami din errors sa huli.”
Valdez came up with 26 points for the Lady Eagles, who dropped to sixth spot with a 2-3 card.
“Na-frustrate lang kami kasi grabe ’yung effort namin sa training tapos ganoon ang nilaro namin,” said Valdez. “Grabe lang ang iniisip namin at nawala ang focus namin sa game.”