NATIONAL University claimed its first Shakey's V-League crown, dethroning back-to-back champion Ateneo in the First Conference on Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
The Lady Bulldogs outlasted the Lady Eagles, 25-23, 25-19, 17-25, 26-24, for its first win in a big tournament in over 50 years. The last time NU won a championship in a major event was in the 1956 and 1957 UAAP women's volleyball tournaments.
"Nakakatuwa kasi nakuha namin itong game, nagpapasalamat ako sa taas kasi sa pamamagitan niya nakuha namin (ang championship)," said NU coach Edjet Mabbayad.
Ateneo launched a big fightback in the third and looked set to take control of the match with an early lead in the fourth.
But the Lady Bulldogs regained their composure, and guest player Rubie de Leon put the NU squad at match point by tossing the ball over to an empty Ateneo corner, 25-24.
League MVP Dindin Santiago then sealed the win for the Lady Bulldogs with an attack down the middle that the Lady Eagles could not handle.
Santiago finished with 17 points, Myla Pablo and Carmina Aganon made 13 markers apiece, and Jaja Santiago came up with 12 for NU.
De Leon finished with 13 markers, from six spikes, three blocks and four service aces, and was named Finals MVP.
"Maganda kasi talaga yung distribution ng bola," said Mabbyad. "Team work talaga ang ginawa nila kanina."
Just when the Lady Bulldogs thought they were going to end the game in straight sets, the Lady Eagles came charging in the third set with a 15-4 run to extend the match.
But the Katipunan-based squad gave away four points to NU in the fourth, including three service errors, to give the Lady Bulldogs the opening they needed, 23-24.
Alyssa Valdez finished with 16 points, while guest players Jeng Bualee and Rachel Ann Daquis had 15 apiece and Fille Cainglet added 10 for Ateneo.