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NU shows killer instinct, ousts UP

By Dugout Philippines

NU, still going all out with the semifinals berth in the bag, eliminated UP, 25-21, 25-16, 25-15, to cap the UAAP Season 77 women's volleyball eliminations at the Filoil Flying V Arena on Sunday.

The Lady Maroons were in dire need of a victory to force a three-way tie in fourth place, but the Lady Bulldogs had other plans, as Jaja Santiago and Myla Pablo combining for 29 hits to hammer out the straight sets win.

NU finished the elims with a 8-6 record in third place, going 6-3 since multi-titled coach Roger Gorayeb took over from Ariel dela Cruz last month.

With UP bowing out of contention with its ninth loss in 14 matches, UST and FEU play in a do-or-die playoff for the remaining semifinals slot on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Defending champion Ateneo went perfect in the double-round eliminations to nail the outright championship berth with the thrice-to-beat incentive, while La Salle, with a 12-2 card in second place, holds the twice-to-beat bonus in the second step-ladder semis against the winner of the first step-ladder game.

"Napakaganda ang inilaro ng mga bata ngayon," said Gorayeb.

The Lady Maroons forged the last deadlock of the first set at 20-20 before Desiree Dadang, Rizza Mandapat and Pablo came through with key hits to give the Lady Bulldogs the upper hand.

NU then dominated the next two frames, as UP has no answer on Santiago and Pablo's fluid attacking game.

"We will treat every game from now on a championship game. One miss you die, kaya inumpisahan namin dito," said Gorayeb, who steered the Lady Eagles to a couple of runner-up finishes before leaving in 2013.

Nicole Tiamzon and Marian Buitre had eight markers apiece while Angeli Araneta had four points in her final game for the Lady Maroons.

UP had a promising start on coach Jerry Yee's second season but got a huge blow when ace middle hitter Kathy Bersola went down with an ACL injury midway in the eliminations.