NU Lady Bulldogs hold off lowly UST Tigresses to win first match under new coach Roger Gorayeb
Jaja Santiago comes up with 28 points, including 22 spikes, for National University. Dante Peralta

NATIONAL University got off to a fast start without its new coach but things got shaky when he arrived before the Lady Bulldogs recovered in the end for a 25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 22-25, 15-9 win over lowly University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Coach Roger Gorayeb said jokingly that his arrival in the second set may have jinxed the Lady Bulldogs, who failed to close out the match early and was stretched to five sets before getting their third win in six matches.

“Salamat nanalo,” sighed the veteran mentor during the post-game interview. “Ako pa yata ang malas noong dumating ako, natalo sa third and fourth sets buti na lang nanalo ang mga bata.”

The newly-appointed NU coach came in late after calling the shots for San Sebastian in the NCAA — his SSC belles suffering a straight-sets loss to Arellano University.

The Lady Bulldogs were in control and looked headed to a straight sets win but suddenly went cold as the Tigresses rallied to even the match and force a decider.

But UST committed one error after another in the fifth and NU capitalized to take a 12-3 lead and sealed the win.

Jaja Santiago came up with a season-high 28 points from 22 spikes, four blocks and two service aces, while Myla Pablo added 15 for NU, which took an hour and 55 minutes to complete the win.

“Sa ngayon hinahayaan ko pa lang muna sila hindi ko pa ini-impose sa kanila ang sistema ko, nag-oobserve pa lang ako sa kanila,” said Gorayeb.

The Tigresses caught fire in the third and closed the set with a 7-0 run, and used an 11-3 blast in the fourth to grab an 18-13 lead.

Rookie EJ Laure scored 16 points, skipper Pam Lastimosa had 13, while Ria Meneses and Mela Tunay chipped in 10 markers, apiece, for the Tigresses, who dropped absorbed their fifth consecutive loss for a 1-5 record.

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