NU nails first-ever Final 4 berth in women’s volleyball at expense of USTBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—It was a day of firsts in the UAAP Season 75 women’s volleyball.
Cai Nepomuceno pumped in a game-high 23 points to lead National University over University of Santo Tomas, 25-19, 21-25, 25-16, 25-23, and into its first-ever Final Four appearance Wednesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
“Everybody contributed. Walang pwedeng i-single out (No one could be singled out). It was a team effort,” said NU head coach Francis Vicente, who was a former UST player.
And while the Lady Bulldogs ended their quest for a semifinals appearance, the Golden Tigresses on the other hand, missed their first semis trip since the Final Four was implemented in 1994.
“Masaya ako natupad na yung pangarap ko (I am happy my dream has been fulfilled) ,” added Vicente.
NU’s celebration though, ends Wednesday with defending champion De La Salle, which owns a twice-to-beat edge, next in Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinals series on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs pushed the Lady Archers to their limits before losing in five sets in their second round encounter.
Despite it, Vicente thinks his team has a good chance to upset La Salle as long as NU will be able to cut down on its errors.
“We had 36 errors in that game against just 26 from La Salle,” he said.
NU had 31 errors this time but still beat UST thanks to its one-two punch of Nepomuceno and former Tigress Dindin Santiago, who added 21 points.
Nepomuceno fittingly capped her stellar game with the game-clinching point off the hands sophomore spiker Carmela Tunay sending her teammates and the NU crowd into a frenzy.
Graduating UST skipper Judy Caballejo played her final game with 15 points. Tunay chipped in 12 points.