TENACIOUS on attack and solid on defense, National U moved closer to a semifinal berth with a 25-15, 25-12, 26-24 thrashing of powerhouse Ateneo yesterday in the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 First Conference at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs turned what was expected to be a tight duel between the tournament’s two unbeaten teams into a rout with Dindin Santiago and Myla Pablo sparkling on both ends of the floor.
University of Santo Tomas also closed in on a semifinal spot after a 25-19, 25-20, 22-25, 16-25, 15-7 triumph over Adamson.
Maika Ortiz starred in the fifth set with back-to-back power hits that enabled the Tigresses to pull away and improve to 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
With the victories, the Lady Bulldogs and Tigresses also shut the semifinal door on San Sebastian and Arellano U, which dropped two games each in the quarterfinal round.
Ateneo and Adamson finished the quarterfinals with 2-1 records, but remain in a good position to reach the Final Four.
Santiago wound up with only nine points, but her towering presence on the net gave the Lady Eagles all sorts of problems. By the time the Lady Eagles found their groove, the Lady Bulldogs were ahead by two sets.
NU looked in trouble of losing the third set after Rachel Anne Daquis powered home back-to-back hits to put Ateneo at set point. But Santiago responded with a couple of smashes, before Aika Rudas sealed the victory with a booming service ace.
Pablo led the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points, including two off blocks, while Rudas matched Santiago’s output with nine.
What made the win more remarkable for the Lady Bulldogs was the way they neutralized the Lady Eagles’ attack. Despite the presence of Alyssa Valdez, the Lady Eagles were held to just 18 attack points out of 90 attempts.
The Tigresses nearly squandered a two-set advantage before steadying themselves in the fifth set, behind Ortiz’s heroics. Ortiz finished with 17 points.
“We lost our focus, but it’s a good thing we were able to recover in the fifth,” said UST coach Odjie Mamon.