TITLE-holder National University is one win away from a return trip to the finals after it turned back University of Santo Tomas, 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, in Game One of the best-of-three semifinals of the Shakey's V-League Season 11 First Conference on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
Dindin Santiago scored 19 points, Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo scored 14 apiece, while Rizza Jane Mandapat came up with the big points for NU at crunch time.
The seldom-used Mandapat came up with six markers, including four crucial points in the final set.
“Super saya na kasi naka-contribute ako sa team, natulungan ko ang team na maka-angat kahit pa sub lang ako,” said the 20-year old spiker, who was sent in when Aiko Urdas fell and hurt her left knee early in the third.
Down by one in the fourth set, 19-20, the Lady Bulldogs came up with a 4-0 spurt with Mandapat coming up with three consecutive points, including a block, that put them ahead, 23-20.
Pam Lastimosa and Chloe Cortez put UST closer, 22-23, but Mina Aganon and Mandapat sealed the victory for NU.
“Pinush ko lang talaga ang sarili ko, ginawa kong inspiration si Aiko na makatulong sa team,” said Mandapat.
Urdas, however, is doubtful for the second match of the semis series on Tuesday.
Lastimosa produced 20 points for the Tigresses, while guest player EJ Laure added 16 and Jessey de Leon chipped in 11.