V-League Finals: Urdas, Santiago lift NU over Ateneo in Game 1
Without Jaja Santiago on the floor, Aiko Urdas took the baton late and carried National University to a hard-fought five-set victory, 25-21, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 18-16 over Ateneo Monday night in Game 1 of the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference Finals at Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Urdas got three of the Lady Bulldogs’ final four points in the deciding set, including the game-clinching spike to complete the team’s come-from-behind win.
“Kahit paano, masaya ako kasi nakita namin na kumakapit sila kahit lamang ang kalaban,” said coach Edjet Mabbayad. “Yung willingness manalo, nandoon sa kanila.”
Santiago unleashed 31 huge points powered by 25 kills and five blocks to lead the fort for NU.
But it was Urdas, who wrapped up the fifth set rally, as the Lady Bulldogs recovered from an early 8-3 deficit. She finished with 18 points.
“Sinabihan ko lang sila na walang pressure,” said Mabbayad. “Lamang o naghahabol, dapat same lang ang intensity natin kasi yun ang magpapanalo sa atin.”
Jorelle Singh added 10 for NU, which can successfully defend its title on Wednesday at the same venue.
The Lady Bulldogs suffered a huge collapse in the third set, losing their 21-17 edge before surrendering the set to go down, two sets to one.
“Medyo nawala ang focus ng mga bata dahil sa mga errors. Sinabi lang namin sa kanila na alisin nila yun sa utak nila at mag-focus sa game,” said Mabbayad.
But that hardly mattered, as Santiago fired a fourth set assault to lead by as high as 10, 18-8 and force the winner-take-all fifth set.
Ana Gopico fired 17 of her 18 points off attacks for Ateneo, while Bea de Leon and Michelle Morente both got 14.
Jho Maraguinot, who played her first game in the tourney for the Lady Eagles, finished with nine markers, including crucial points in the fifth set.
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