National University kept its record unblemished but not after overcoming a gritty stand by Far Eastern University, 25-22, 21-25, 25-18, 26-24, in Game 1 of the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference Finals Wednesday night at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Jaja Santiago dominated anew for the Lady Bulldogs, who shoot for a finals sweep and a perfect season in Game 2 on Saturday.
Santiago, who averaged 26 points per game in the semifinals, picked up where she left off with 23 points, including four blocks and four service aces.
“The game was a bit tight but I give it to the evolution of the team,” said NU coach Babes Castillo. “They played a bit relaxed under pressure, though, they have yet to find the balance between being relaxed and assertive.”
“We will try our best to win. Hopefully, very, very convincingly. We have to limit our errors, we want to be more intelligent and organized,” Castillo said.
The Lady Bulldogs blew a big lead twice. The last instance was in the fourth set where the Lady Tamaraws rose from six points down, 21-15, to tie the match at 22 after Risa Sato’s attempt went out.
Aiko Urdas delivered a pair of clutch hits for NU and FEU committed a couple of costly errors from Heather Guinoo and Celine Domingo to end Game 1.
Sato added 12 points while Jasmine Nabor had 46 excellent sets. Urdas finished with eight points and 16 digs.
Czarina Carandang paced the Lady Tamaraws, who were without team captain Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Atienza, with 17 points.
Pons and Atienza are focused on playing for FEU in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament and likely to miss Game 2 as well.