JAJA Santiago and Risa Sato led the way as National University turned back Laoag, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21, on Saturday in the V-League Season 13 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Santiago, an incoming fourth year middle blocker, had 21 points from 16 attacks, four blocks and one service ace, while Filipino-Japanese middle blocker Risa Sato scored 12 points in the Lady Bulldogs’ opening match in the tournament.
Setter Jasmine Nabor added 10 points to go with 31 of the 32 excellent sets by NU, winner of the Collegiate Conference.
“Magandang simula, sino ba naman ang hindi nagandahan doon. Si Jas matagal nang hindi nagse-set ’yan eh mas masaya lang siguro sila ngayon kesa sa dati,” said NU coach Roger Gorayeb.
“Kinausap ko naman sila, nakakatuwa naman lalo na si Jas kasi nadadala niya ang team eh tapos nandyan pa si Sato,” he added.
NU is rebuilding after Myla Pablo and Ivy Perez have played their final season in the UAAP, and the departure of Rica Diolan, Bia General and Marites Pablo.
Other new faces in the NU lineup are Lamie Aberin, Joni Chavez and Audrey Paran.
Gorayeb likened the current NU Lady Bulldogs lineup to the Ateneo Lady Eagles team, featuring Fille Cainglet-Cayetano, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Jem Ferrer and A Nacahi, that he handled seven years ago.
“Basta masaya ako maganda ang umpisa namin sana magtuluy-tuloy kasi parang naalala ko noong first year ko sa Ateneo,” he recalled. “Limang bago din ang player ko, apat silang andyan pero may dadating na bago so lima pa rin.”
Adamson’s Mylene Paat and Gallanza scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, for Laoag.