NATIONAL University pounded University of Santo Tomas with its power game and imposing net defense in a 25-21, 25-22, 25-19 win on Tuesday to book a return trip to the finals of the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
Towering sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago dished out a pair of 14-hit games, while Carmina Aganon rammed in 12 points as the Lady Bulldogs got past the Tigresses for the second straight time to stay on track in their title-retention bid in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Like in their 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22 triumph in the opener of the best-of-three semis series on Sunday, the defending champions bucked a number of miscues with their awesome hitting power, superb court coverage and daunting defense upfront anchored on Myla Pablo, who came through with four blocks and finished with nine markers.
The outcome would have been a lopsided one if not for the Lady Bulldogs miscues.
"Everytime we are on the verge of pulling away, we would commit errors. We're to blame that we're allowing them to bounce back," said NU coach Ariel de la Cruz.
NU produced 41 kills in the 80-minute encounter against UST’s 31, with the Lady Bulldogs’ blockers making life tougher for UST’s hitters, including ace rookie Ennajie Laure, who was held to 10 hits after averaging 16.
Despite the sweep, De la Cruz still stressed the need for his wards to raise the level of their game a notch higher as they head to the finals of the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
"We can't afford to play like this in the championship, we have to step up our game in the finals," said Dela Cruz.
What made the win impressive was that NU played without top spiker Aiko Urdas, who sustained a knee injury in the third set of their Game One triumph.
Pam Lastimosa did finish with 11 points but the rest of the Tigresses failed to provide the needed support with Rhea Dimaculangan adding six markers and Jessey de Leon and top blocker Marivic Meneses chipping in five points each.
The NU-UST match will be shown starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday on GMA News TV Channel while the Adamson-FEU clash will be aired Thursday, according to the organizing Sports Vision.