MANILA, Philippines – The National University Lady Bulldogs kicked off their campaign for a second consecutive UAAP women’s volleyball championship with a dominant victory over Ateneo de Manila University. The match was played on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena, where NU outplayed their opponents with ease, winning in straight sets with scores of 25-15, 25-20, and 25-16.
NU’s Alyssa Solomon led the charge for the Lady Bulldogs, finishing with 12 points on 10 attacks, a block, and an ace. She set the tone for her team, who have now won 19 consecutive matches dating back to Season 82. Reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen also contributed eight points on five spikes, two aces, and a block, while Cess Robles added 11 points and eight digs.
NU coach Karl Dimaculangan said that it was a big deal for his team to have a fresh start in the new season, and that their mindset was the same as it was last year. Despite having a slim lead early on in the first and second sets, NU managed to launch massive runs that eliminated Ateneo and allowed them to take a commanding 2-0 lead. The Lady Bulldogs then exploded into the third set, jumping out to a 16-4 lead before nearing match point with a score of 24-11. Although Ateneo mounted a mini-rally to close the gap to 24-16, Dimaculangan’s timeout led to an error and a victory for his team.
NU’s Erin Pangilinan and Sheena Toring, two middle blockers, each scored seven points. Solomon remarked that her team was pleased to be able to employ the skills they had been practicing in the game, but they were not content to stop there, as there was still much room for improvement.
In the one-hour, 25-minute match, the Lady Bulldogs were outstanding at the serving line, producing 10 aces against Ateneo’s two. Vanie Gandler and Faith Nisperos each scored eight points for NU, while AC Miner led the Blue Eagles with nine points and two blocks.
NU’s next opponent will be Adamson University, another first-day winner, in a match scheduled for Wednesday at 10 am. Meanwhile, Ateneo will be looking for its first win against University of the East.
Overall, NU’s dominant performance in their opening game was a statement of intent from the Lady Bulldogs, who are determined to defend their championship and prove that they are the best team in the UAAP women’s volleyball competition. With their impressive form on display, it is clear that their opponents will have to step up their game if they hope to stand a chance against them.