Facing five-set challenge for first time since high school, NU figures out more ways to improve unbeaten run
National University (NU) was dragged to a five-setter for the first time in two seasons of the UAAP women’s volleyball competition.
And a 25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 22-25, 15-10 win over the Adamson Lady Falcons on Wednesday seems to be bad news for the rest of the 85th Season field as the Lady Bulldogs experienced—and won over—adversity early and can address everything that went wrong.
“It’s a good team experience and an eye-opener,” NU coach Karl Dimaculangan said in accepting that all the teams will be gunning for them this season and taking the marathon victory with a grain of salt. “At least this early, we were able to experience this and determine the adjustments that we have to make.
“We expect that this season won’t be easy.”
Alyssa Solomon again helped her team go over the hump, scoring a career-high 28 points, while Michaela Belen had 20 attacks out of 23 points for the Lady Bulldogs, who allowed the Lady Falcons to claw back from two sets down and force the decider.
And Solomon churned out a brilliant effort despite lacking in confidence, at times.
“My teammates give me confidence. So that pushes me to give my best every game,” Solomon said.
Record in sight
NU played its first five-setter since 2020—and the first for the team’s current stars since their high school days—and the Lady Bulldogs have inched closer to Ateneo’s 24 game romp during the time of Alyssa Valdez.
“I saw how our team fought today, but as much as possible, I didn’t want the match to go to five sets,’’ said Solomon.
“There are lessons that we’ve learned and saw that many things still need improvement. Even in training, I always tell them to expect the worst that could happen in a game,’’ said Dimaculangan.
Princess Robles added 13 points for the Lady Bulldogs while Camilla Lamina added 17 excellent sets before delivering the game-winning ace.
“We got rattled, and that wasn’t how we normally play. Good thing it came early [in the season], so we can adjust and find solutions,’’ said Robles.
The Lady Falcons snatched the third set, racing to a 16-10 advantage on well-grounded execution, before Solomon almost single-handedly lifted NU back in contention.
Solomon scored 11 attacks in that set, a performance that circled the drain after the Lady Falcons survived the comeback with Kate Santiago putting on the finishing touches.
Santiago led the Lady Falcons with 20 points, spiked with 17 attacks and Gayle Tubu chipped in 16.
In the other game, University of Santo Tomas (UST) erased a frustrating season-opener with a 25-16, 28-26, 25-21 win over Far Eastern University (FEU).
Eya Laure and Jonna Perdido pierced the FEU defense without mercy while rookie setter Cassie Carballo also sparkled as the Golden Tigresses eased the pain of defeat they absorbed from the La Salle Lady Spikers.
“This victory overcame the [bad] feeling of that defeat. Against La Salle, we relaxed after taking the second set and weren’t able to finish strong,’’ said Laure, who led UST with 17 points, 14 of them coming off power attacks.
Ateneo surrendered a set before sending University of the East (UE) to its knees, 25-17, 25-23, 24-26, 25-10 with Vanessa Gandler and Faith Nisperos pummeling the UE side of the floor in the fourth and final frame.
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro was seen fuming at his Lady Eagles before they overcame a forgettable third set on the way to notching their first victory of the season.
“We might not like the way it ended, but a win is a win and we’re happy for this. There were too many expectations in this game, because I wanted to bounce back badly [from the NU defeat],’’ said Almadro.