Also-ran National University runs over defending champion Cagayan Valley
Rizza Mandapat of National University easily gest the ball across as Aiza Maizo of Cagayan Valley tries to defend. Dante Peralta

NATIONAL University pulled off a huge upset, coming back from two sets down to keep defending champion Cagayan Valley winless in the quarterfinals, 23-25, 18-25, 25-16, 25-22, 16-14, on Tuesday in the Shakey's V-League Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

An error-strewn fifth set led to a see-saw match, with Cagayan Valley moving to match point, 14-13.

But NU scored the last three points to steal the win.

NU coach Ariel dela Cruz said they got the victory because nobody expected them to win. They occupy the last spot with a 2-5 win-loss record in the six-team round-robin quarterfinals.

“Wala na rin naman kaming hinahabol dito eh, ang sabi ko lang sa kanila just enjoy and play your game,” said De la Cruz.

Cagayan Valley looked set to score a quick win with two strong sets but faltered in the third Jaja Santiago and the Lady Bulldogs took control, 14-7, and never let up.

NU then used a 7-2 run led by Santiago, Ivy Perez and Rizza Mandapat to seize the lead, 14-11.

A late 5-1 run moved Cagayan Valley closer, 22-24, but Mandapat scored on a power hit to force a decider.

The 6-foot-4 Santiago scored 24 points, while Pablo finished with 15, Mandapat had 14 and Perez scored 10.

NU gave away 33 points to Cagayan Valley through errors, while the Lady Rising Suns handed 32 free points to the Lady Bulldogs from their miscues. 

Aiza Maizo scored 21 points, while Wenneth Eulalio added 11 for Cagayan Valley, which absorbed its third straight loss in the quarterfinals is now in fourth spot with an even record 4-4.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinspin