Lady Bulldogs blast Tigresses to close in on Final Four incentive

NU’s Alyssa Solomon touches the net as she tries to score against UST’s Cassie Carballo (No. 24) and Imee Hernandez during the UAAP Seaosn 85 women’s volleyball round 2 match at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on April 26, 2023. PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO

NATIONAL University avenged its first-round loss to the University of Santo Tomas with a 25-16, 25-21, 17-25, 25-14 win, closing in on the second twice-to-beat incentive in the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball tournament at the jampacked Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.

With their fifth straight win, the Lady Bulldogs rose to solo second at 10-3 while pushing the Golden Tigresses down to a tie for third with Adamson University at 9-4.

UST recovered from a 9-2 deficit in the fourth through the efforts of Imee Hernandez and Eya Laure to trail by just two, 11-9, but they were not prepared for NU's second wind.

Cess Robles came through with three hits, Camilla Lamina made two service aces, and Alyssa Solomon connected twice for seven unanswered points, putting the game away for good, 18-9.

“We're very happy po na kung ano yung napagtraining-an namin at napagplanuhan namin ay nadala namin ngayong game,” said reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen, who unleashed 16 points on 13 spikes and three blocks to go with 12 excellent receptions. “We're happy na isang game na lang makukuha na namin yung twice-to-beat. One game at a time and we'll get there.

“Dapat pagdating ng fourth set yung mindset namin ay huwag kaming magpapatalo kasi laman na po kami ng dalawang set eh so ano ba naman po yung konting push na lang para matapos na yung game. Sabi lang namin kailangan namin sila maunahan kasi once na naunahan po kami nahihirapan po kaming humabol lalo na po maerror po kaming team,” she added.

Down 12-16 in the second set, Vange Alinsug and Solomon connived to push NU ahead, 18-16, before Belen, Alinsug, and Erin Pangilinan put the finishing touches and moved on the verge of a sweep.

However, UST refused to go down without a fight, establishing a 17-7 lead to force a fourth frame, 25-17.

Solomon led the Lady Bulldogs with 17 points, while Alinsug and Sheena Toring contributed 10 and nine points, respectively.

NU liberos Jen Nierva and Shaira Jardio did well in their respective fields, with the former making 16-of-22 receptions and 10-of-14 digs, while the latter tallied 15-of-26 digs.

Laure took the scoring mantle for the Golden Tigresses with 17 points but was limited to 15-of-43 attacks, while Hernandez uncorked 14 points, including five of the team's 13 blocks.

NU will close its elimination round against the Ateneo de Manila University on Saturday, while UST faces the University of the Philippines on Sunday.

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