Previous NU high school standouts run away with all nine UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball awards, highlighted by a historic rookie MVP citation for Lady Bulldogs star Bella Belen.
Belen made history as the first ever UAAP women’s volleyball rookie MVP last Tuesday June 21. The homegrown star of Sampaloc joined her fellow former Nazareth-NU high school standouts in a stunning sweep of the Season 84 individual awards handed out before the Finals Game 2 between NU and the La Salle Lady Spikers.
Belen also took the first Best Outside Spiker plum to round out her impressive haul with three individual awards. Meanwhile, NU prospect-turned Ateneo star Faith Nisperos – also an MVP runner-up earned 2nd Best Outside Spiker honors.
UST star Eya Laure, the season’s top scorer, finished fourth in the Outside Spiker rankings, and was actually edged by NU captain Cess Robles, who leapfrogged to third.
Meanwhile, Thea Gagate, an ex-NU anchor now with La Salle, ran away with the first Best Middle Blocker award, while Lady Bulldog Sheena Toring was awarded second Best.
Fan favorite Jen Nierva of NU followed as the Best Libero, besting the likes of La Salle’s Justine Jazareno and FEU’s Max Juangco, while Lady Bulldog setter Camille Lamina bested Adamson’s Louie Romero for Best Setter honors.
NU’s Alyssa Solomon, one of the two top scorers in Game 1 of the finals, stood out as the undisputed Best Opposite Spiker, as UP’s Alyssa Bertolano lagged at a distant second.
NU’s dominance at the individual awards races came with little to no surprise as the Lady Bulldogs are now on the cusp of a rare 16-0 season sweep.
On the other hand, La Salle, has not won a single set against NU in the three straight matches of this season alone, and now teeters on the losing edge of its resurgent campaign.
With an NU sweep on Tuesday night, the Lady Bulldogs program formally end a 65-year wait for its next UAAP women’s volleyball title.
A 65-year waiting pays off…
National University (NU) is back on the UAAP women’s volleyball throne for the first time in 65 years.
This is just NU’s third title in the event and first since 1957 and the first tournament sweep in the league since Ateneo de Manila University did it in Season 77.
“Siguro yung pagiging coach ko nag champion pero marami kami hardships na pinagdaanan. Sobrang saya and sobrang nakakasaya para sa team,” said first-year Lady Bulldogs head coach Karl Dimaculangan.
“Sobrang saya ko po actually kasi sa training po namin halos makita po namin yung (pagod at sakripisyo), nagbunga naman po lahat,” said Finals MVP Cess Robles who averaged 9.0 points and 9.5 digs in the two-game series.
“Sobrang happy po kami at kay coach dahil nakuha namin yung championship crown.”
La Salle fought back in the third period, leading by three late, 20-17, then NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan called a timeout followed by an Alyssa Solomon point, 18-20.
Then Dimaculangan called the numbers of Joyme Cagande and Erin Pangilinan to sub for Lams Lamina and Solomon.
The Lady Bulldogs then went on a 7-0 blast through the energy of the super substitutes to move to match point, 24-20.
Back-to-back errors from NU though pulled La Salle back, 22-24, but Thea Gagate’s service went wide for the clincher.
The Lady Spikers opened the game with a 10-6 lead, but it was all Lady Bulldogs the rest of the first set, going on a 14-2 blast to turn the game, 20-12 on the way to a 25-15 tally.
It was no different in the second frame as NU zoomed to a 10-3 start and never looked back, 25-15, to move on the verge of the win, the tournament sweep, and the crown.
Solomon topscored anew for NU with 18 points on 15 attacks and three blocks. Season MVP Mhicaela Belen had 16 points built on 13 spikes and three blocks.
Nobody scored double figures anew for La Salle with Gagate as its leading scorer with eight points. Gagate followed with seven points.