MANILA, Philippines—Back in 2018, Bella Belen, Sheena Toring and Nazareth School of National University saw their seemingly interminable reign in the UAAP girls volleyball end at the hands of the Angel Canino-led La Salle-Zobel.
Fast forward to present day, Belen and Toring find themselves headed for another showdown with Canino on a bigger stage in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
Belen couldn’t hide her excitement ahead of Wednesday’s clash between defending champion NU and unbeaten La Salle.
“Of course we’re excited [to play.] It’s been a long while since we faced her (Canino) so we’re looking forward to Wednesday,” Belen said in Filipino after the Lady Bulldogs’ sweep of Far Eastern University at San Juan Arena on Saturday.
“Now they have a go-to player. They really improved compared to before, now we can see that they’re really fighting and hitting so it’s going to be a challenge for us. We’ll prepare and come back to ourselves, looking at what we need to improve on.”
Other than Canino’s first look at NU in the seniors’ division, the marquee matchup featuring the top teams in the league is also a rematch of last season’s finals where the Lady Bulldogs made easy work of the Lady Spikers to end their 65-year title drought.
This season’s clash, however, promises to be a different one with La Salle (6-0) emerging as the No. 1 seed so far and NU (6-1) no longer on an undefeated streak following a stunning loss to University of Santo Tomas earlier this month.
Toring is aware that the complexion of the competition has changed and having the right mindset will be crucial for NU.
“We have to fix our mindset. Sometimes in other games, we have on and off moments and of course, we need to improve that especially since this is La Salle we’re facing,” Toring said.
“Right away in the first set, the fire to win has to be there for us,” she added.