UAAP volleyball: NU’s Bella Belen named Rookie-MVP in historic feat
MANILA, Philippines — Bella Belen became the first-ever UAAP women’s volleyball player to be crowned Season MVP and Rookie of the Year after a masterful first year with National University.
The 19-year-old outside spiker won three individual awards, including the 1st Best Outside hitter, moments before Game 2 of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball Finals, where the Lady Bulldogs try to complete a series sweep against La Salle and a perfect 16-0 record for the school’s first championship since 1957.
The do-it-all spiker made history as the only rookie to win the MVP in women’s volleyball.
The former UAAP girl’s MVP out of Nazareth School became NU’s first MVP since Jaja Santiago in Season 80 last 2018.
Belen was a runaway statistical leader with 99.574 points. Nisperos was far behind with 78.302 statistical points.
“Thank you to all the supporters of NU. I promise to bring back the crown in Sampaloc,” said the young spiker.
The 5-foot-7 was in the Top 10 in five of the seven skills categories. Belen was the elimination round’s best server averaging 0.47 aces per set. She also ranked third in scoring with 203 points, second in spiking with 38.96 percent success rate, No. 6 best receiver with her 40.85 percent efficiency rate, and No. 8 best digger with 2.38 digs per set.
Besides Belen’s historic achievement, the Lady Bulldogs got five of the best seven positions of Season 84.
Lams Lamina was hailed as the Best Setter after she topped the race in the 14-game elimination averaging 5.81 excellent sets per frame.
Alyssa Solomon, the Best Spiker of the elimination round with 38.98 percent attack rate and No.8 in scoring with 171 points, won the Best Opposite Hitter plum.
Jennifer Nierva earned her first Best Libero award after topping the best receiver race with 55.96 percent efficiency rate and placed second in digs with 4.40 digs per set.
Sheena Toring copped the 2nd Best Middle Blocker, as finals rival Thea Gagate of La Salle won the 1st Best Middle Blocker with her elimination round best 0.60 blocks per set.
Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos, the league’s second best scorer with 267 points in the elims, won the 2nd Best Outside Spiker.
Interestingly, all seven individual awardees are products of Nazareth School of NU. Nierva was the lone non-rookie among the UAAP’s best volleyball players, as Nisperos and Gagate were both qualified as freshmen after their first season in 2020 was cut short by the pandemic.
After the individual awards haul, NU tries to achieve another history by ending a 65-year title drought and becoming the third team to sweep all 16 games, joining the 2004 La Salle and 2015 Ateneo.