National U fought back from a numbing second set defeat with a big charge in the next two before cashing in on Far Eastern U’s miscues late in the fourth to carve out a 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24 win Thursday night to close in on the PVL Collegiate Conference crown at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs broke down in the face of the Lady Tams’ fierce comeback in the fourth, losing a four-point lead but pulled through in a deuce endgame just the same as the latter made a service error and a mishit to yield a 24-all count, the set and the match.
Jaja Santiago lived up to the hype and fired 23 hits, including 15 attack points and four blocks, as the Lady Bulldogs moved a win from sweeping the season-ending conference of the league organized by Sports Vision and backed by Mikasa and Asics.
Stunned by a late-second set foldup where they blew a 20-16 lead and lost by four, the Lady Bulldogs came out of the third frame firing from all angles to go 2-1 up. The Lady Bulldogs then shrugged off the Lady Tams’ stirring fightback late in the fourth to annex the victory in four at the start of their best-of-three series.
They go for the clincher on Saturday.
NU survived FEU’s gritty stand in the opening set, battling through a series of ties before unleashing a strong finishing kick, breaking away from a 22-count with a sweep of the last three points, the last two on kill blocks by Santiago and setter Jasmine Nabor.
The Lady Bulldogs also rallied from 1-6 down in the second frame but this time, the Lady Tams returned the favor, battling back from 16-20 down to win nine of the next 10 points, including five straight to steal the frame.
Jeanette Villareal anchored FEU’s fiery second set windup with three straight aces with Heather Anne Guinoo capping the big finish with a kill to level the match.
Earlier, Arellano U pulled through in a pair of tight sets then rolled past a fading Adamson U in the third frame to fashion out a 25-23, 26-24, 25-14 victory in the opener of their best-of-three series for third.
Skipper Jovielyn Prado hammered in 13 attack points and finished with 18 markers while Regine Arocha and Necole Ebuen combined for 25 hits as the Lady Chiefs overcame the Lady Falcons, who lost their poise in the third.
The setback was the third straight for Adamson, which swept the group elims stage and beat Far Eastern U at the start of the Final Four, only to lose back-to-back games to the Tams in the absence of injured ace Jema Galanza to miss the finals.
Joy Dacoron led AdU with nine points while Christine Soyud struggled for just seven hits, the same output put in by rookie Chiara Permentilla.