UAAP volleyball: Bella Belen, NU try to right ship vs Ateneo

Bella Belen NU Bulldogs

NU Lady Bulldogs’ Bella Belen in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

Four teams that dropped their opening weekend matches, counting title-favorite National University, return to the floor Saturday to try and get their Season 86 UAAP women’s volleyball campaigns back on track at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

The Lady Bulldogs, champions two seasons ago and losing finalists to La Salle last year, try to forget the ignominy of a straight-sets loss in their debut when they battle Ateneo in the 4 p.m. contest, even as Adamson University and University of the Philippines (UP) square off at 2 p.m.

Bella Belen and the Lady Bulldogs took a 19-25, 23-25, 22-25 whipping at the hands of the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses a week ago, a loss that very few saw in coming.

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 volleyball first round

Alyssa Solomon and Vange Alinsug were at their usual selves and combined 27 points, but National hopes to get more from Belen, who collected 17 digs and nine receptions but scored only nine points.

Ateneo, meanwhile, remains upbeat despite a 25-20, 18-25, 23-25, 18-25 defeat to University of the East that ended a 21-match winning run that lasted for 14 years.

Holdovers Lyann de Guzman, Geezel Tsunashima, AC Miner, Yvana Sulit, Taks Fujimoto and libero-captain Roma Mae Doromal as the Blue Eagles’ glue that will stick together as they seek to return to the Final Four after missing the bus last year under Brazilian coach Sergio Veloso.

“We’re the seniors in this team and we really need like to step up,” De Guzman, who had 19 points against the Lady Warriors, said. “We need to show our leadership for the new players on our team to follow. We have to be their role models.”

Promising rookie

Finally showing her wares in the UAAP, JLo delos Santos hopes to continue to shine after contributing 12 points, including two blocks and two service aces in her debut for Ateneo.

“It’s a bit tricky on my end because this is my rookie year, but then I can’t act like a rookie because technically by age, I’m a senior and I have to set a good example to the fellow rookies and of course, my batchmates,” said the 23-year-old Delos Santos.

READ: Cassie Carballo shines in UST sweep of NU in UAAP volleyball

“It’s pretty hard, because I never got the experience being led by the people before during the times of Faith (Nisperos) and Vanie (Gandler),” she added. “But I was with them for a short while. And I hope with that short while, I was able to get something from them and hopefully, carry it on this season.”The Lady Falcons and the Fighting Maroons began their campaigns with straight-set defeats.

Adamson was overwhelmed by defending champion La Salle, 25-15, 25-16, 25-18, while UP fell to Far Eastern University, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18.