Angel Canino adds twist to NU-La Salle showdown
There was no sense of panic in defending champion National University’s (NU) approach to a clash of UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball titans between the Lady Bulldogs and the La Salle Lady Spikers.
NU, no longer looking untouchable this season, isn’t grasping for strategies just yet in the face of the matchup against the undefeated tournament leader.
Heading into the most anticipated match of the young season, the Lady Bulldogs are, instead, very clinical in dealing with their coming assignment.
“We went back to the drawing board and reviewed [La Salle’s] past games,’’ said NU coach Karl Dimaculangan.
“It’s only the first round. Our preparation will be the key in this game,’’ he added.
The absence of anxiety may be largely because the Lady Bulldogs still own the psychological edge, having swept La Salle in a best-of-three final series last season, winning both games in straight sets. The champs, however, know that they will be facing a vastly different—and wholly improved—La Salle squad this season.
“They now have a go-to player,” said Mhicaela Belen, won Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player trophies last season.
And it’s a go-to player Belen and the Lady Bulldogs are familiar with. And that player comes with a warning for NU.
“Season 84 is different; this is a totally different team than Season 85,” said La Salle rookie Angel Canino last Sunday, after powering the Lady Spikers to a sixth straight win.
Canino has every reason to put little weight on NU’s dominant run to the crown last season. As a high school star for La Salle Zobel, she halted National University Nazareth School’s streak of championships to lead her squad to the title.
“You can be assured that we will play our hearts out,” Canino said. “We will definitely show everyone our true worth, what we’re all about—both as individual players and as a team.”
Canino’s presence has the Lady Bulldogs fired up over the rematch.
“It’s been a long while since we faced her (Canino) so we’re looking forward to Wednesday,” Belen said. “They have improved immensely this season and this will pose a challenge for us.”