NU Lady Bulldogs survive tough four-setter over Ateneo Lady Eagles to take early UAAP lead
Risa Sato and the Lady Bulldogs make it two wins in two matches although both were tough four-setters. Jaime Campos

NATIONAL University ended a long run of futility against Ateneo, scoring a 25-17, 25-13, 19-25, 29-27, on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

Jaja Santiago scored 26 points from 19 kills, six of the team’s 14 blocks and one service ace.

Jorelle Singh and Risa Sato combined for 28 points for the Lady Bulldogs, while Jasmine Nabor registered all of the team’s 43 excellent sets in a match that lasted an hour and 45 minutes.

For a while it looked like Ateneo would be able add to the six straight wins over NU, as the Lady Eagles found their rhythm after dropping the first two sets and the match seemed headed to a decider.

But down 4-12 in the fourth set, NU woke up and tied the match at 23. It was a see-saw battle from there, with NU emerging winner after a Jia Morado service error, 28-27, and a Jasmine Nabor rejection on Michelle Morente’s attack.

The last time the Lady Bulldogs beat the Lady Eagles was in the elimination round of Season 76, when Jaja Santiago was just a rookie.

“Ganoon pa rin naman sila (Ateneo), sinasabi ko lang sa mga player ko na ’wag ibigay ang confidence sa Ateneo, kasi ang taas ng confidence nila eh,” said NU coach Roger Gorayeb.

“‘Yung Ateneo kasi ang daming pumapalo, isang napakadaling way pag nawala confidence nila madali na kaming makakapenetrate,” he added.

It was the second win for NU after an opening-day victory over University of the East, also a tough four-setter.

Ateneo, straight-sets winner over University of the Sto.Tomas on opening weekend, now has a 1-1 card, tied with Far Eastern University behind titleholder La Salle (1-0).

“Masaya ako para sa mga bata at saka doon sa mga walang hiyang nagsasalita ng kung anu ano sa player, maaga pa para magsalita ng kung anu ano,” said Gorayeb.

“Nagapasalamat ako at nanalo, nandoon kami sa gusto naming tahaking landas,” he added. “Pero ‘di pa ‘yun enough para masabi ang outcome we’ll try to win as many games as possible.”

Bea de Leon scored 14 and Jhoana Maraguinot added 12 for Ateneo.

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