NU puts an end to UST streak with four-set masterpiece

NU puts an end to UST streak with four-set masterpiece


Alyssa Solomon NU UAAP


National University (NU) made sure that University of Santo Tomas will not be going home on Sunday night having the same feeling it has had in Season 86 of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. Bella Belen made that clear even before the Lady Bulldogs stepped foot on the fabled Smart Araneta Coliseum floor.

“I told my teammates earlier ‘[the Tigresses] still do not have a loss, so it will feel good to win over them,’” Belen said after the Lady Bulldogs handed Santo Tomas its first loss, a 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20, dismantling that assured that no team will be sweeping this season’s elimination round.

Belen showed why she was the first-ever Rookie of the Year-Most Valuable Player with a dominant performance of 24 points from 21 attacks, two blocks and an ace while also doing her part on defense with 13 excellent digs and 10 excellent receptions.

“I saw that my teammates responded well, and we were all giving our best. I am happy because I saw that what we were working for these past few days showed in this game,” Belen added after NU, which was at the losing end of the game that touched off the Santo Tomas streak, was poetically the one to put a stop to that.

Vange Alinsug was also effective and contributed 18 points built on 14 attacks, three aces and a block and Alyssa Solomon added 17 points of her own from 12 attacks, three aces and two blocks.

Setter Camilla Lamina had 16 excellent sets in orchestrating the NU offense.

Avoiding Pepito

National U avoided giving Santo Tomas defensive ace Bernadett Pepito touches off the serve and that told on the Tigresses. The Lady Bulldogs found a new target in Angeline Poyos to ensure that the Tigresses would be put out of synch offensively.

“In training, we already had a goal of what we wanted to happen,” said Belen, who was visibly emotional after Solomon nailed an ace to clinch the match.

“We did not want a repeat of what happened in our La Salle game wherein we had regrets,” she added. “Our mindset was, after this game, we should know that we gave our all.”

With most of National U’s trio’s kills going Poyos’ way, they reduced the chances of the powerful rookie to unleash her usual damage. Poyos, however, still spearheaded the Santo Tomas offense with 18 attacks, but was not as effective on defense with only four out of 23 digs and 14 of 31 receptions.

That led to an overwhelming 13 service aces for National U, which also had a brick wall at the net with 10 total blocks.

“Almost every one of us wanted to win since we wanted to come back from our loss to [the Tigresses],’ Solomon said. “Our hard work before this game was worth it because we trained like there was no tomorrow.”

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Regina Jurado tried to help the Tigresses—who shot themselves on the foot with 26 huge errors—with 11 attacks. But National, save from a first set slip, came in prepared to get back at its first round tormentor and outplayed Santo Tomas in virtually all departments. INQ


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