TITLE-holder National University is a win away from another finals appearance but coach Ariel de la Cruz is still feeling anxious, concerned with the team’s inability to finish off matches.
The Lady Bulldogs look to come up with a more convincing victory, while the UST Tigresses try to extend the series when they meet in the second match of the best-of-three semifinals in the V-League First Conference on Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.
NU won Sunday’s series opener, 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, a match that De la Cruz believes should have ended quicker.
“Kulang pa kami ng killer instinct,” he said.
“Patay na ang kalaban ayaw pa tuluyan, kami pa mismo bumubuhay sa kalaban.”
Sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago are again expected to take charge in the match that starts at 2 p.m., but the Lady Bulldogs also hope to see Aiko Urdas suit up and shake off her injury or see another fine performance from the likes of Rizza Manabat.
Urdas hurt her left knee in a fall and was pulled out, but the Bulldogs got a big boost when Manabat came in and delivered crucial points down the stretch in the series opener.
“Expected ko na aangat pa ang laro ko, itataas ko pa ang laro ko,” said Manabat.
The Tigresses actually came up with more spikes, 53-51, but struggled to score in bunches and was forced to play a see-saw battle.
They try to make the adjustments, and hope that Pam Lastimosa, EJ Laure and Jessey de Leon would get enough support from the rest of the Tigresses.
Adamson also moved one step closer to the finals by winning over Far Eastern University, but not before falling behind by two sets.
Now the Lady Falcons hope to start the 4 p.m. match with guns blazing this time, and avoid slipping behind early.
But Adamson coach Sherwin Meneses knows it would not be easy for the squad led by Bhebs Pineda and Pau Soriano, after experiencing the firepower brought by national team mainstays Jovelyn Gonzaga and Rachel Anne Daquis, who were tapped by FEU right before the quarterfinals.
With the nationals leading the way, the Lady Tamaraws got to within a point of a straight sets win but lost steam and were turned back, 19-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-15, 15-12. Jovelyn Gonzaga came up with 24 points from 17 spikes, six blocks and one service ace.
“Mag-aadjust pa kami sa key players nila lalo si Jov,” said Meneses.