MANILA, Philippines-National University got badly bruised by La Salle, its ego deflated not just once, but twice in a row last week.
The defending champions began the road to redemption by venting their ire on the University of the Philippines Lady Fighting Maroons, 25-21, 27-25, 25-19, on Saturday at the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball.
Bella Belen came out hyperfocused in consummating the task, scattering 19 points built around 18 attacks and had 11 excellent receptions as the Lady Bulldogs started the process of healing the wounds they absorbed from back-to-back defeats against the La Salle Lady Spikers.
“We have moved on (after those losses). We discussed what happened and made a promise that it will never happen again,” said Belen after the Lady Bulldogs picked up their sixth victory in nine games.
Princess Robles scored 11 points, 10 of them attacks, and Alyssa Solomon added nine markers, thanks to the superb performance of setter Camilla Lamina, who orchestrated the NU onslaught with 18 excellent sets.
As champions, we have to regain our character. We started slow and we cannot afford that in our succeeding games,’’ said Robles.
Belen had several open looks on pouncing the Lady Maroons’ territory that kept them in control in the first set.
Nikha Cabasac drove a spike off the block and Solomon saw her hit sail beyond the end line, giving the Lady Maroons a glimmer of hope, 22-21, but a deflection by Sheena Toring on a charging Abi Goc popped UP’s bubble just as quick.
Belen again rose to the occasion and delivered the merciless down-the-line kill that closed out the set.
Last season’s rookie-MVP continued the assault in the succeeding frame as Belen helped the Lady Bulldogs reverse a three-point deficit with a variety of potent hits that knotted the count at 23.
Aly Bertolano’s push and a powerful crosscourt smash by Nina Ytang kept the Lady Maroons afloat, but an unforced error by Marianne Sotomil at the net and Erin Pangilinan’s block on Cabasac quashed UP’s efforts.
There was little doubt on NU’s ability to end the match in the third set as the Lady Bulldogs rushed to an 11-5 advantage anchored on Belen and Solomon.
Dannica Celis joined forces with Cabasac and Ytang coupled by the miscues committed by the Lady Bulldogs leveled the count at 15 before Pangilinan, Solomon and Belen again put order on the NU side of the floor.
Ytang’s attack error and a hit by Goc went too wide, accelerating UP’s fifth straight defeat and eighth overall in nine games.