DEFENDING champion National University and Adamson waylaid separate foes Sunday to keep within distance off unbeaten La Salle in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament at the Philsports Arena.

12 March 2023

DEFENDING champion National University and Adamson waylaid separate foes Sunday to keep within distance off unbeaten La Salle in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Philsports Arena.

Reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen showed the stuff she’s made of, making up for lost time after her benching in the previous match.

This time, she had 13 points on 11-of-17 attacks and seven receptions as the Lady Bulldogs threw their weight around in the second and third set in a 25-23, 25-9, 25-12 dismantling of University of the East.

On the other hand, the Lady Falcons leaned on the solid performances of Trisha Tubu and Kate Santiago to outclass Ateneo 25-18, 25-23, 25-19.

With their victories, NU and Adamson rose to 4-1 in joint second.

Tubu came away with 23 points on 22-of-39 spikes while Santiago hammered 11 kills and collected nine digs as the Lady Falcons handed the Blue Eagles their third consecutive defeat.

As the rematch of last season’s Finals with the Lady Spikers drew near, the Lady Bulldogs are focusing on what lies on the table.

“One game at a time. Huwag munang isipin yung La Salle, kailangang mag-perform kaming maigi sa FEU,” said NU coach Karl Dimaculangan.

Libero Jen Nierva, who like Belen was not fielded in the second to fourth set in last Wednesday’s victory over University of the Philippines, has the same mindset.

“Every game naman is very important. It’s not just about FEU or La Salle. It’s really how we really play the game as a team and how we improve every single game,” said Nierva, who collected seven digs and six receptions.

Alyssa Solomon had 14-of-21 attacks for a 15-point effort while Erin Pangilinan chipped in 10 points, including four blocks, for the Lady Bulldogs.

KC Cepada and Van Bangayan each had seven points for the Lady Warriors, who fell to 0-5.

Men’s titleholder NU dodged UE’s upset axe, scoring a come-from-behind 22-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 15-6 win to remain unbeaten in five games which set the tone for the twin kill.

The Bulldogs, who won their last 18 duels with the Red Warriors, extended their overall winning streak to 23 dating back from 2019.

“Sobrang thankful ako kahit na down kami by two sets nakuha pa rin namin yung panalo. Credit din sa players ko na kahit medyo may konting problema kami sa ginagawa namin sa loob ng court nakabalik pa rin kami,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, whose team committed 38 errors.

The Bulldogs bucked the absence of Ken Malinis due to personal reasons. Nico Almendras also missed the first set after being handed a yellow and red card at the start of the match for his unsportsmanlike conduct after last Wednesday’s five-set win over University of the Philippines.

Almendras made it up with 17 points on 16-of-31 attacks

MJ Fortuna stepped up in the absence of Malinis with 24-of-39 spikes to finish with 25 points in his first start while Congo’s Obed Mukaba had a season-best nine blocks for a 18-point effort for NU.

UE, which drew 15 points from Lloyd Josafat, slipped to 2-3.

Despite the quick sweep, Dimaculangan pointed out their slow start where the Lady Warriors threatened to take first frame.

“Slow start kami, maraming error, hindi kami gumagalaw ng tama pero yung second and third set naman medyo nakapagexecute kami nang mas maayos so naging mas maganda yung resulta sa amin,” said Dimaculangan.

Coach Jerry Yee liked what he saw in Adamson’s one-minute, 28-minute romp of Ateneo.

“Yung pinapractice namin, yung pinaguusapan namin nae-execute ng mga players kaya masaya kami doon,” said Yee, as the Lady Falcons will next face the Lady Spikers on Sunday.

The Blue Eagles, with Faith Nisperos leading the way with 17 points, dropped to 1-4 overall in a tie with the Fighting Maroons in sixth place.

Adamson and Ateneo had several memorable epic battles in the past which mostly went to distance, and Tubu was glad that her team completed a straight-set romp.

“Hindi po namin hinayaan na umabot pa na makakuha sila ng set kasi kami rin po ang mapapagod eventually po pag tumagal. Kaya po kung ano po yung kaya naming gawin every set, kung kaya naming ipanalo, ipinapanalo na po namin,” said Tubu.