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Lady Bulldogs stay unbeaten

National University’s grizzled veterans once again led the way to keep the Lady Bulldogs’ pristine record intact to start the second round of the Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-season Championship.

The trio of Bella Belen, Sheena Toring, and team captain Ces Robles carried NU to a 25-21, 25-16, 25-20, dismantling of University of the Philippines to inch closer to claiming the crossover quarterfinals top seed in Pool E Sunday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Belen, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 84 Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player, and Toring had eight markers each while Erin Pangilinan had seven points for the Lady Bulldogs, who hiked their carryover win-loss record to 2-0 after extending their winning run to four.

“As team captain I tried to lead the team by example,” said Robles, who had six points all coming off timely hits that repelled UP’s attempts to mount a significant rally.

“We were a bit tentative in the opening set. Coach Karl (Dimaculangan) just told us to stick with our game plan and execute what we prepared for in training and we just did what we were supposed to do,” she added.

NU will face University of Perpetual Help on November 5 in the resumption of their postponed match last Saturday due to inclement weather brought about by severe tropical storm “Paeng.”

Jewel Encarnacion finished with eight points to pace the Fighting Maroons, who will face Ateneo de Manila University on Saturday to determine their final ranking heading into the knockout quarterfinals scheduled on Sunday.

In the other Pool E pairing, the Blue Eagles survived a couple of scary moments in the last two sets before sweeping the Lady Altas, 25-21, 26-24, 26-24, for a 1-1 carryover record.

Ateneo showed nerves of steel to save three set points in the second frame before veterans Vannie Gandler and Faith Nisperos smashed back-to-back hits to steal the set.

Perpetual behind rookie Shaila Omipon erased a 24-20 lead by the Blue Eagles but Nisperos was quick to stop Ateneo’s bleeding with a crucial crosscourt kill before the Lady Altas yielded the match with a sorry miscue that ended the one-hour, 44-minute duel.

Alexis Miner led three other Blue Eagles in double figures with 15 points. Lyann de Guzman had 13 markers while Nisperos and Gandler had 12 and 10 points, respectively.

Ateneo will square off with UP on Saturday to close the second round.

The Lady Altas, who got 15 points from Omipon in a lost cause, dropped to a 0-2 slate.

The Final Four is slated on November 11 while the winner-take-all championship match is set on 19 November.

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