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NU forces death duel

Game Oct. 4
12:45 p.m. – NU vs Ateneo

NATIONAL University held Alyssa Valdez to a career-low nine-hit output and the Lady Bulldogs got back at the Ateneo Lady Eagles in style, fashioning out a surprisingly easy 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 romp to force a sudden death for the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference crown at The Arena in San Juan City.

Stung by their similar straight set 25-19, 25-13, 25-23 setback in the best-of-series opener last week, the Lady Bulldogs came into the match armed to the teeth, seizing control early with their power game and superb blocking while pouncing on the Lady Eagles’ poor service reception.

The rubber match will be played Oct. 4 starting at 12:45 p.m., also at The Arena, with NU hoping to duplicate its Season 10 title conquest over Ateneo where it dropped the first game but swept the next two to claim its first collegiate title in the league sponsored by Shakey’s and presented by PLDT Home Ultera.

The Lady Bulldogs’ swift 77-minute demolition of their fancied rivals likewise kept the predominantly pro-Ateneo crowd at the jampacked arena silent, gingerly waiting for a Valdez explosion that never came.

What transpired was NU’s completion domination of an erratic Ateneo squad as Jaja Santiago stood out with 13 hits, mostly on quick sets and running drop shots, and Myla Pablo banged away 12 big points.

Dindin Manabat’s return after missing the series’ opener also boosted the Lady Bulldogs’ confidence as the school’s guest player matched Pablo’s output, providing the additional firepower and endgame poise lacking in their Game One loss.

But NU coach Roger Gorayeb stressed it was the team’s solid reception and better service game that keyed their victory.

“It’s not Dindin, actually, but more on our reception. We received well today (yesterday) than the last time,” said Gorayeb in Filipino. “It also helped that we had fewer service errors, I counted it. We probably committed just three or four in this game.”

NU delivered 35 attack points against Ateneo’s measly 28, produced seven blocks against its rival’s three and came away with 11 aces against the Lady Eagles’ poor service reception.

Valdez, seeking to cap another explosive campaign that netted her the MVP honors in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel, struggled with her attacks in the face of the Lady Bulldogs’ solid net defense, converting just eight attack points out of 26 tries. Her nine-point production was her lowest in years but she still proved to be Ateneo’s top scorer as Jhoanna Maraguinot, Amy Ahomiro, Kim Gequillana and Bea De Leon finished with six points apiece.

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