National University Lady Bulldogs book Shakey’s Super League final slot

REIGNING champion National University (NU) drubbed Adamson University, 25-13, 26-24, 25-20, and booked a finals return trip in the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Collegiate Pre-Season Championship Season 2 Sunday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila.

The Lady Bulldogs erased a 22-24 deficit in the second set before banking on a hot start in the clincher to score yet another straight-sets victory and shore up their back-to-back championship bid.

It’s the seventh sweep in a row for the mighty NU squad that needed only 83 minutes to capture the win in the knockout semifinals with skipper Erin May Pangilinan and reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Solomon spearheading the way.

NU will face off against either Far Eastern University or University of Santo Tomas — which were still playing as of press time — in the best-of-three finale starting on Friday.

Ms. Pangilinan fired 11 points on seven hits, two blocks and two aces, including a bevy of clutch hits in the pivotal second set while Ms. Solomon cashed in 10 points on seven attacks, two blocks and an ace.

Former UAAP Rookie-MVP Mhicaela Belen, Evangeline Alinsug and rookie Arah Ella Panique contributed nine, eight and seven points, respectively, for the wards of returning mentor Norman Miguel.

NU, which wiped out Pool A in the preliminaries and Pool E in the playoffs before making short work of the University of the East in the quarterfinals, 25-19, 25-21, 25-23, picked up where it left off by pouring it down on Adamson with a dominant 25-13 first-set win.

In the second set, the NU Lady Bulldogs nearly yielded their first set all-tournament long after staring at a 22-24 deficit off an Ayesha Juegos’ hit for the Lady Falcons only for Ms. Pangilinan to come to their rescue.

Ms. Pangilinan’s thunderous attack forced the deuce at 24-all followed by Ms. Panique’s soft touch and her block on Jimy Jean Jamili to cap a 4-0 finishing kick for a thrilling 26-24 win.

The lethal duo of Mmess. Belen and Solomon then took over from there, anchoring a 10-6 start in the third set en route to a sweep.

Ms. Jamili, Ayesha Juego and Jen Villegas fired seven each for Adamson, which will duke it out against the loser between FEU and UST for the bronze medal.

In the classification phase, College of St. Benilde trounced Ateneo de Manila University, 25-20, 19-25, 25-11, 25-11, to arrange a duel against UE for the fifth place. Ateneo and Arellano University will fight for No. 7. — John Bryan Ulanday

Neil Banzuelo

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