NU fends off UST for finals berth in Super League
MANILA, Philippines — Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon propelled National University into the winner-take-all final of the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Preseason championship as they withstood a young but game University of Santo Tomas side, 25-23, 23-25, 25-21, 25-17, in their knockout semifinal duel on Friday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Belen, the reigning UAAP MVP, unleashed 24 points, including the game-clinching hit that sent the Lady Bulldogs to the championship game on November 19, facing the winner of the Adamson-La Salle semifinal match.
Solomon delivered 19 points to keep NU unbeaten in seven games in the preseason tournament, coming off a perfect 16-0 title run in the UAAP Season 84.
The young Tigresses, who played without Eya Laure, showed maturity beyond years as they erased a four-point lead of the Lady Bulldogs in the second set with Regina Jurado giving them a 23-22 advantage followed by a successful net touch challenge called by KungFu Reyes to reach set point, 24-22.
Solomon saved a point for NU but Mary Joe Coronado ended the set with a quick attack to level the match at one set apiece.
That second set loss served as a wake-up call to the Lady Bulldogs as Belen and Solomon led a balanced attack to take full control in the next two sets, especially in the fourth, where they pulled away with a six-point lead, 22-16, off the Tigresses’ back-to-back errors before Belen nailed the final-clinching attack.
“I just reminded the team to work harder, that we can’t afford to give UST momentum and their young players to gain confidence,” said NU coach Karl Dimaculangan, whose squad went up 21-17 in the second set but allowed UST to mount a comeback to tie the match.
“I think it’s also a big advantage that we have experienced players that know what to do in tight situations,” he added.
Ces Robles and Erin Pangilinan were also instrumental with 15 points each while Sheena Toring chipped in 12 markers.
Xyza Gula, once again, led UST’s gallant stand with 21 points, while Pierre Abellana had 20 markers only to be relegated to the bronze match next week against the loser of the Adamson-La Salle semis pairing.
Meanwhile, University of the Philippines advanced to the battle for fifth place after fending off the gritty Far Eastern University, 26-24, 28-26, 27-29, 22-25, 15-8.
The Fighting Maroons squandered a two-set lead but displayed their composure in the fifth set, pulling away with a 12-7 advantage off Jewel Encarnacion’s block on Chenie Tagaod.
Tagaod made up for her rejected attack with a kill in the next play only for UP to score three straight points to complete its victory and advance to the battle for 5th on Saturday next week against the winner of the Ateneo-University of Perpetual Help classification match.
Nina Ytang led the Fighting Maroons’ balanced attack with 18 points including eight of her team’s 14 blocks. Joan Monares and Stephanie Bustrillo chipped in 17 points each, while Encarnacion and Dannica Celis added 13 and 10 markers, respectively.
The Lady Tamaraws absorbed its fifth straight defeat, being relegated to the battle for seventh.
Jean Asis led FEU with 16 points. Mitzi Panangin and Jovelyn Fernandez contributed 14 markers each. Barbie Jamili had 12, as Tagaod added 11.