Reigning champion National University survived a close third set before it dispatched a resilient University of the Philippines side, 21-25, 25-10, 27-25, 25-21, yesterday to book a championship seat in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The trio of Aiko Urdas, Jorelle Singh and Jaja Santiago steered the Lady Bulldogs in that pivotal frame, where they rose from a 20-23 deficit en route to the set victory.
It served as a turning point for NU despite the persistent attempts of UP in the fourth to also sweep their best-of-three semifinal series following a 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24 Game 1 win last Monday.
It was also the Lady Bulldogs’ third finals appearance in the history of the league.
Santiago served as the heart and soul of the Lady Bulldogs, bannering the team anew with 25 points built on 19 kills and four blocks.
The 6-foot-4 skipper actually made it to the match a few minutes before the warm-up after coming from Biñan where she played for a club team that is seeing action in the Asian Women’s Club Championship.
Assistant Coach Edjet Mabbayad, however, opted to rest Santiago at the start of the set.
“Mabagal yung simula namin. Andami naming errors. Pero nakuha namin kaagad yung laro namin sa second set,” said Mabbayad.