NATIONAL University goes for the jugular against Ateneo today in Game 2 of the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference Finals at the Philsports Arena.
Winning a second straight title for the Lady Bulldogs won’t be a cakewalk definitely, as the Lady Eagles thrive when they are on the ropes.
“Sobrang lakas ng Ateneo, wala akong masasabi sa kanila. Sobrang tibay ng blocking nila at depensa. Siguro umiral lang talaga ang teamwork,” said middle hitter Jaja Santiago, who had a career-high 31 points in NU’s 25-21, 19-25, 23-25, 25-18, 18-16 series-opening win last Monday.
The Lady Bulldogs hope to douse any hopes of the Lady Eagles forcing a decider in the match set at 6 p.m.
Assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad, who steered NU’s first V-League title in 2013, was satisfied the way his troops delivered in the final stretch of the game, where the Lady Bulldogs prevailed without Santiago in the rotation.
“Nakita namin ’yung kapit at ang kagustuhan ng mga bata na manalo,” said Mabbayad.
Aiko Urdas delivered the game-clinching hit for NU to finish with 18 points, while Jorelle Singh, Roma Doromal and setter Jasmine Nabor were also solid in the Finals opener.
Santiago, a cinch to win the conference MVP honors, is expected to assert her will in the middle as she simply wanted to close this thing out to give her 6-foot-5 body a well-deserve rest after splitting time with school and club commitments.
Ateneo has been there in winning do-or-die games and is hoping to do it again.
Aside from trying to figure out how to limit Santiago’s numbers, the Lady Eagles need to make some adjustments in some aspects of their game to live another day.
“Kung ano ang mga errors namin sa game, like sa depensa, sa blocking, pati rin sa coverage, kailangan naming ayusin,” said Ateneo skipper Michelle Morente.
Aside from Morente, the Lady Eagles will also bank on Ana Gopico and Bea de Leon, who are connecting well with Jia Morado’s superb set plays.
“We will stay happy. Maglaro lang kami sa loob ng court,” said Morente.
Far Eastern University, meanwhile, tries to complete a sweep of its third place series against University of the Philippines at 4 p.m.
The Lady Tamaraws, behind Heather Guino-o, bested the Lady Maroons, 25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 21-25, 15-9, in last Monday’s opener.