National U sets out for a rare feat in the PVL on Saturday, eyeing no less than a sweep of the Collegiate Conference crown against Far Eastern U at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs pounced on the Lady Tams’ late miscues and pounded out a 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24 victory in the opener of their best-of-three title series late Wednesday. And unless the underhanded Morayta-based squad could neutralize NU’s power and edge in experience and match its endgame poise, the Lady Bulldogs could be on their way to completing a nine-game sweep of the season-ending conference crown of the league organized by Sports Vision.
After his wards scrambled at the finish that enabled the Lady Tams to threaten in Game One, NU coach Babes Castillo this time expects the Lady Bulldogs to come out of their 6:30 p.m. clash fiercer and confident.
“We’ve seen some rallies that we could’ve controlled right away. But like I said hindi pa nila makuha ang balance on being relaxed and assertive,” said Castillo of his wards.
But the Lady Tams will have to worry more on how to defuse the 6-4 Jaja Santiago, who fired 15 kills, including four kill blocks, in their four-set win that also saw Risa Sato score 12 markers, Audrey Paran deliver 11 points and Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas combine for 17 hits.
Urdas also came up with 16 digs as the Lady Bulldogs survived the Lady Tams’ 14-ace outing.
Jasmine Nabor has also kept NU’s play in sync, tallying 46 excellent sets in the team’s 51 attacks. The third year setter, whose lean frame belies her power off the spike and ability to foil attacks, also scored six points, including three blocks.
But despite their Game One loss, FEU coach George Pascua said he was satisfied with how the Lady Tams challenged their fancied rivals considering they played without skipper and top hitter Bernadeth Pons and libero Kyla Atienza.
His two aces’ Game Two stint remains uncertain as FEU stayed in contention for a shot in the finals of the UAAP beach volley tournament. But even in their absence, Pascua still drew big games from the likes of Czarina Carandang, Toni Basas and Jeanette Villareal among others.
“I am satisfied because they gave their best. It’s just that they succumbed in the end. It will only make us strong in Games Two and Three. It also happened to us in the best-of-three before. So I told them we should learn from that,” said Pascua, referring to their semis duel with Adamson, which they stunned in sudden death.
Meanwhile, Ateneo also shoots for the crown against FEU in the men’s division of the league backed by Mikasa and Asics at 1 p.m.
Arellano and UST, on the other hand, seek third to wrap up their own best-of-three playoff for third with the former facing Adamson in the women’s side at 4 p.m. and the latter clashing with National U at 11 a.m. in the men’s division.