NATIONAL University stunned Ateneo, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17, on Sunday to force a decider in the V-League Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Jaja Santiago scored 13 points and Myla Pablo added 12 as the Lady Bulldogs took the match with surprising ease in an hour and 23 minutes.
Guest player Dindin Santiago-Manabat was back with the Lady Bulldogs after an international stint with her Super Liga club Petron, scoring 12 including five blocks.
The deciding match of the best-of-three series is set next Sunday.
Alyssa Valdez scored nine points for Ateneo, which won the opener of the series, also in straight sets.
While Dindin made a huge return to the squad, NU coach Roger Gorayeb said team reception was the biggest factor in stopping the Eagles.
“Ang malaking bagay kasi nakaka-receive kami. 'Yun naman talaga syempre pag naka-receive kami maiintimidate na sila doon sa gitna, eh malaki ‘yun eh kung titignan mo ‘yung puntos ni Dindin (Santiago), kung sa paluan at paluan, di masyadong marami.”
“Maganda kasi ’yung umpisa eh kaya nagtuluy-tuloy naman kaya natutuwa ako concerted effort naman eh ng lahat ‘yan eh, wala (specific) na player kasi ang volleyball naman team effort ‘yan eh,” continued Gorayeb.
It was actually close in the receiving department, with NU registering 13 excellent receptions against 11 by Ateneo.
The Lady Bulldogs did take control early, breaking away, 8-2, in the first set and, 8-3, in the third.
“Sabi ko sa kanila ok lang matalo kailangan matuto ka sa pagkakamali,” said Gorayeb. “’Yun lang naman ang lagi kong bilin sa kanila, matalo tayo sa sobrang lakas ng kalaban hindi sa sobrang dami nating mali tulad ng nakaraan.