NU Lady Bulldogs core ballasts Philippine squad to AVC
The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs will form the spine of the national team to the Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Cup—and the young group will get a chance to showcase its talent early when it fills in for a no-show foreign squad in the semifinals of the Premier Volleyball League Invitational Conference.
Mhicaela Belen, the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball Most Valuable Player, will spearhead the squad that will feature 12 of her championship-winning teammates and two other promising additions.
The national team will get to test their mettle against PVL semifinalists in the ongoing Invitational Conference after Kobe Shinwa Women’s University pulled out at the last minute due to a positive COVID-19 test on one of its student-athletes.
“The Kobe Shinwa Women’s University told us that they won’t be able to fly to the country last night because one of their players tested positive and the rest of the team were close contacts,” said Sports Vision president Ricky Palou.
The other foreign team, Taipei KingWhale, arrived on Saturday morning in time for its debut against Cignal at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The national team, meanwhile, battles Creamline at 5:30 p.m. at MOA Arena.
The AVC Cup’s preliminary round is set from Aug. 21 to 25 with the Filipinos facing Vietnam on Aug.21, China on Aug. 23, Iran on Aug. 24, and South Korea on Aug. 25.
Also part of the squad are NU standouts like UAAP Finals MVP Princess Robles, UAAP Best Setter Lams Lamina, Best Libero Jennifer Nierva, Best Opposite Spiker Alyssa Solomon, 2nd Best Middle Blocker Sheena Toring, Ivy Lacsina, Kamille Cal, Joyme Cagande, and Nicole Mata.
Incoming NU rookies Evangeline Alinsug and libero Shaira Jardio were also called up for their first seniors’ national team stint even before making their UAAP debut next year.
Completing the young core under Brazilian coach Jorge Souza de Brito are Adamson standout Trisha Genesis and California Academy star Jelaica Gajero. In the PVL semifinals Saturday, Creamline battled from two sets down to frustrate PLDT Home Fibr, 22-25, 25-27, 25-21, 25-19, 15-12, and wrest the solo lead at 2-0 (win-loss). Cignal HD subdued a resilient Army Black Mamba side, 26-24, 26-28, 25-18, 18-25, 16-14, in the earlier game at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
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