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Towering NU ready for final step to title

By Josiah Albelda Posted Dec 1st 2013

Din-Din Santiago and the rest of the NU Lady Bulldogs look to make a strong challenge for the UAAP 76 women's volleyball crown.

For the second straight season, National University will be considered a serious contender to topple De La Salle University from its championship perch.

This time, though, they will be armed with something they sorely lacked when they lost in the Final Four in Season 75: championship experience.

Derailed last year because of inexperience that resulted into a plethora of errors, the Lady Bulldogs look to bite a better finish in this season's volleyball wars.

"Yung finals experience, yung maturity ng mga bata, yun yung nakita naming kulang," said new coach Edjet Mabbayad, who took over from Francis Vicente and promptly led NU to the Shakey's V-League crown this summer.

Mabbayad, who steered the school's men's team to the UAAP title in 2012-13, believes that the Lady Bulldogs' rise to the top of the V-League will only bring wonders to the Sampaloc-based crew.

"Malaking tulong para sa mga bata yung championship," the former Far Eastern University spiker added. "Malaking bagay at marami silang natutunan."

Like last year, NU will be parading virtually the tallest team in the tournament, what with giants like the 6-foot-2 Dindin Santiago and 6-foot-5 rookie Jaja Santiago leading the way.

The Lady Bulldogs' height sealed them the second spot in blocking in Season 75, with their defense accounting for almost three killed blocks per set. And with Jaja around this year, expect NU to be even more stonewall-like on the net.

"Advantage talaga namin yung height and blocking," said Mabbayad.

After finishing first in attacking last season, don't expect the Lady Bulldogs to let up, especially with Best Attacker Myla Pablo back with Rookie of the Year Sweet Urdas in punishing opponents with their deadly spikes.

The biggest problems remain for NU, however, as setting and their floor defense still leave not a lot to be desired.

Ivy Perez, whose shaky playmaking contributed to the Lady Bulldogs' woes, will be back while veteran libero Jen Reyes, who kept NU alive in a number of games, is gone after graduating.

"Marami pa kaming inaayos pa," Mabbayad shared. "Lalo na yung service at receive namin. Big factor talaga yun. Kapag hindi kami naka-receive ng maganda, mahihirapan kaming umatake."