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    Second seed National University battles No. 3 Ateneo as UAAP volley stepladder semis continues

    Feb 26, 2014
    Alyssa Valdez and the Lady Eagles try to overcome the twice-to-beat advantage of Dindin Santiago and the Lady Bulldogs. Jerome Ascano

    NATIONAL University clashes with an inspired Ateneo side in its bid to advance to the Finals as the step-ladder semifinals in UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament continues Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.

    The Lady Bulldogs hold a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing second in the eliminations with a 12-2 record. A victory in the 4 p.m. match will send NU to a championship showdown with defending champion De La Salle, which gained an outright finals spot plus a tremendous thrice-to-beat edge for sweeping the 14-game eliminations.

    The Lady Bulldogs swept the Lady Eagles in their head-to-head this season, but youthful coach Edjet Mabayyad knows that the post-season is a different story. To complement the towering sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago, NU has a bevy of hitters in Mina Aganon, Myla Pablo and Aiko Urdas.

    Setter Ivy Perez, who can contribute also on offense if needed, will also be a vital cog for the Lady Bulldogs.

    Ateneo defeated a veteran Adamson University crew, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21, in the first step-ladder last Sunday to advance. The Lady Eagles proved to be more than an Alyssa Valdez team as Amy Ahomiro continued to provide big contributions, rookie Michelle Morente was a revelation in the past three outings and pint-sized Ella de Jesus played big against the Lady Falcons.

    There is also rookie setter Jia Morado who has been steady on her playmaking chores for the Katipunan-based squad, who finished third in the eliminations with a 10-4 card despite a rookie-laden roster.

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    Meanwhile, NU seeks to arrange a best-of-three title series with Ateneo in the men’s division as the defending champions face No. 4 Adamson University at 2 p.m.

    The Bulldogs finished the eliminations on top with a 12-2 card and only need to beat the Falcons once to advance against the Blue Eagles. 

    Ateneo overcame a two-set hole to bundle out Far Eastern University, 23-25, 19-25, 25-17, 28-26, 15-13, in last Sunday’s Final Four duel to advance to the Finals for the first time since 1980.

    Adamson is coming off a 25-20, 27-25, 25-23 win over La Salle in a playoff for the last semifinals berth last week. 

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    Alyssa Valdez and the Lady Eagles try to overcome the twice-to-beat advantage of Dindin Santiago and the Lady Bulldogs. Jerome Ascano
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