Titleholder National University had to earn its way back to the win column of the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament, downing University of the Philippines in a hard-fought three-set affair, 25-21, 27-25, 25-20, Saturday, Apr. 1, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Tied at 25 in the second set, Mai Sotomil committed a costly servicer error that set up Erin Pangilinan’s clincher for the Lady Bulldogs, blocking Nikha Cabasac for the extended 27-25 set win.
NU then started the third salvo with an 8-3 flurry but could not completely pull away, needing the efforts of Cess Robles and Mhicaela Belen to shrug off the Fighting Maroons and end the match in one hour and 37 minutes.
“Kanina kasi sabi ko sa kanila nung first round four sets kami ng UP so nagset kami ng goal na kailangan this time straight sets lang kung kaya,” said Robles on their sixth win in nine games to tie University of Santo Tomas for spots three and four.
Belen supplied 19 points and 11 excellent receptions after playing less than a set in their first round encounter with UP.
Robles also returned to her usual role after being a service specialist in NU’s previous game, making 11 points, while Alyssa Solomon added nine points.
The Fighting Maroons, on the other hand, fell to their sixth straight defeat to drop to 1-8 and on the brink of elimination.
Alyssa Bertolano led UP with 12 points and 13 excellent receptions, while middle blockers Nica Celis and Niña Ytang had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
With the Lady Bulldogs moving to six wins and tying University of Santo Tomas at the third and fourth spots, University of the East (0-9) has been eliminated from Final Four contention as well.
UP and NU will return on April 12 after the Holy Week break. The former meets Ateneo de Manila University while the latter faces Adamson University.