A GUNG-HO National University squad gave Ateneo no chance to score a sweep.
Confident from the get-go, the Lady Bulldogs spoiled the Lady Eagles’ title sweep bid with a surprise three-set romp, 26-24, 25-23, 25-22, yesterday to forge a winner-take-all finale in the Shakey’s V-League First Conference at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Bulldogs set the tone right in the opening frame with an 8-3 start and fended off every Ateneo rally on the way to a straight-set victory anchored on Myla Pablo and Dindin Santiago.
“We were tight in the the first game, but we’re back to our normal form,” said coach Edjet Mabbayad after the Lady Bulldogs leveled the best-of-three series at 1-1 in front of a crowd of almost 9,000.
“The tension and nerves were no longer there. We focused on our service and reception.”
Both teams, though, have to wait one more week to settle the score in the do-or-die Game 3 slated Sunday at 3 p.m. at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Pablo fired 11 of her 15 points on kills to lead the Lady Bulldogs, who also drew key contributions from Carmina Aganon, Jaja Santiago and Rubie de Leon.
Dindin Santiago, the season MVP, scored all of her 12 points on attacks to make up for a measly five-point outing in the Lady Bulldogs’ Game 1 loss to the Lady Eagles, 25-15, 25-22, 25-23, last Thursday.
“I was kind of embarrassed that I won the MVP but I wasn’t able to deliver in Game 1,” said the 6-foot-2 Santiago. “So I wanted to prove that I can carry this team.”
Aganon added eight points, capped by a placement that sealed the game after the Lady Eagles fought off match point four times, 24-22, on a Fille Cainglet hit and three consecutive service aces from Amy Ahomiro.
Earlier, University of Santo Tomas also forged a decider in the battle for the bronze after downing Adamson, 24-26, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17.
Aiza Maizo tossed in 19 points, including 14 kills and a couple of service aces, while Pam Lastimosa also had 17 for the Tigresses.
The Lady Eagles rallied to tie the first set at 23 before a Rachel Daquis hit put them at set point, 24-23, in the opening frame.
But the Lady Bulldogs incredibly survived set point thrice to steal the opener, 26-24, with a Pablo attack and a pair of Ateneo errors.
Alyssa Valdez paced the Lady Eagles with 17 points.