As it turns out, NU’s win over La Salle in Game 1 of the semis back in Season 77 wasn’t a fluke as the Lady Bulldogs repeated the feat Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasig.
Though just in the 1st round of eliminations of the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament, NU already flexed its muscles, shocking the Taft squad, 25-16, 26-24, 14-25, 25-23.
The trio of Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo and Jorelle Singh was on point, finishing with identical 16-point markers to carry the Sampaloc squad to a 2-1 record.
Already ahead at 2-0, NU all of sudden experienced a flat tire in the 3rd frame, giving the Lady Spikers a chance to extend the match.
This, according to the Lady Bulldogs’ head coach Roger Gorayeb, was due to their faulty reception which was only at 25% accuracy.
“Grabe ‘yung practice namin sa service-receive sila Myla (Pablo) at Jorelle (Singh) tapos ganyan ang mga error namin. Kailangan i-address ko na naman ‘yan,” he told the press after the match.
NU eventually recovered in the 4th set as Gorayeb’s wards’ banked on the heroics of Pablo and rookie Jasmine Nabor, who delivered during the crucial juncture of the match.
“Kasi itong mga batang ito kailangan pumasok sa isip at puso nila na kaya nila manalo sa malalaking teams din,” said the coach on his team’s low self-esteem.
“After the 2nd set, sobrang saya nila. Sabi ko hindi pa tapos ang laro,” he added. “Makikita mo talagang napaka-naive nila. Parang bata na ang babaw ng kaligayahan nila. ‘Yun ang inaawat ko sa kanila.”
With the win, last year’s bronze medalists perhaps erased all doubts about how strong their claim is to this year’s crown.
And defeating La Salle again should be a big boost to the team’s 2016 campaign.
“Malaking tulong ito kasi gusto namin mapunta sa top 4. Malaki ‘yun kasi La Salle alam naman natin na malakas sila. They can always recover,” he said. “‘Yung maka-isa kami sa kanila napakaganda na. I-capitalize namin ‘yan. Sabi ko hindi lang naman dalawang schools lang naglalaban diyan sa UAAP. Bigyan natin ng chance ang sarili natin.”
The opening-day loss to Ateneo may have put a shadow of a doubt to all the pre-season hype the team has achieved after an impressive off-season both as a team and as individuals but by now, the Lady Bulldogs look like they are back on track to going all the way this time around.
Even rookie Rica Diolan owned the setter position of NU after dazzling with 35 excellent sets.
“‘Yung puso lang talaga nila ang daling masira. Missed receive lang nasisira na ‘yung laro natin. Hindi pa sila ganun ka-kumpiyansa talaga,” said Gorayeb on what they will work on next. “Pag na-reach namin ‘yung level na gusto ko talaga ang ganda nito para sa kanilang lahat.”
“Ito siguro sa panalo na ito medyo maniniwala na sila sa sarili nila,” closed the coach. — By Mac Dionisio