UAAP: Bella Belen not frustrated by benching in NU win after ‘stiff’ showing
MANILA, Philippines — Bella Belen learned her lesson after her first scoreless game in National University’s bounce back win in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Belen only played in the first set and was benched for the remainder of the win over University of the Philippines on Wednesday.
After experiencing loss since high school after NU bowed to University of Santo Tomas last Saturday, the reigning Season MVP admitted she was overzealous to bounce back and played in unfamiliar territory.
“In the first set, we were too stiff and it’s our first time to play here at Araneta so we’re not used to the surroundings. We were too aggressive that’s why we failed to execute our preparation for this game,” said Belen in Filipino.
“We were too eager. We were not enjoying because we were too focused on bouncing back [from our last loss] in the first set.”
The league’s first-ever rookie MVP went scoreless in the first set and sat out the succeeding sets alongside senior libero Jennifer Nierva, who politely begged off from an interview as she was not feeling well.
Belen was the league’s No.4 best scorer prior to this game, scoring a total of 48 points built on 39 attacks, six blocks, and three aces in the first three games.
NU coach Karl Dimaculangan said he needed to make the necessary adjustments as the two key members of their perfect run last season were struggling, leading to more playing time for rookie spiker Vangie Alinsug and freshman libero Shara Jardio.
“If there are others who can play better, that’s who we will use because we can’t let up now that the first round is about to end,” Dimaculangan said in Filipino. “All of our players know that they have to perform and be ready for their teammates. So when one struggles, we have players, who are ready to step up.
The 20-year-old spiker was not frustrated despite being benched and remained happy for her teammates, especially Alinsug, who stepped up with 13 points and 11 digs.
“I wasn’t [frustrated]. It’s all about patience. Plus I was happy for Vangie because she performed well. And I knew that she will deliver when she entered the court because, in our training, we practice this kind of situation when someone is off. That’s why our team knows what to do,” said Belen.
“I’m so happy for our team because from the second to fourth set they bounced back and moved flawlessly by applying our game plan,” she added.
Bella Belen on game against UP: "Yung mga naging lessons dito, kailangang dalhin namin para di na maulit next game."
— INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) March 8, 2023
Alinsug said they were eager to step up for their teammates after seeing a shaky start that caused their first set loss.
“We committed a lot of errors to start the game. During the second set, we regrouped for our teammates by limiting our errors,” said the backup rookie spiker. “We’re happy because we were able to bounce back. But we know that from this game, we could do better as we move forward.”
From her first loss since winning 34 games dating back to her final UAAP girls’ game to her first scoreless game in the UAAP, Belen said her recent struggles will serve as motivation to play better in their upcoming games.
“It just became a bigger motivation for us to focus on our game so we’ll have we can perform better next time,” she said.