UAAP volleyball: Best pals Detdet Pepito, Bella Belen set for duel

UAAP volleyball: Best pals Detdet Pepito, Bella Belen set for duel

/ 08:15 PM March 22, 2024

UST Tigresses' Detdet Pepito and NU Lady Bulldogs' Bella Belen in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

UST Tigresses’ Detdet Pepito and NU Lady Bulldogs’ Bella Belen in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — University of Santo Tomas captain Detdet Pepito and National University star Bella Belen may be fierce competitors inside the court but they are close friends outside the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

Pepito and the Tigresses put their unbeaten run on the line against Belen and the Lady Bulldogs, whom they took down in the opening weekend, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The former Philippine women’s volleyball teammates have been exchanging banters whenever they cross paths at the venue. When Belen was once asked about her steady floor defense for NU in a postgame interview, she joked that she wanted a showdown with the UST libero.

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After NU’s four-set win over the University of the Philippines on Wednesday, Pepito brought Belen with the Tigresses during their entrance to the court for their second-round game against Ateneo.

“Excited na kong makatapat si Detdet. Hinila niya nga ko kanina eh. Shoutout sayo,” said Belen with laughter.

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The Tigresses skipper, who formed a strong bond with the Season 84 Rookie MVP during their stint for National Capital Region in Palarong Pambansa, was joking that she’s bringing Belen to her team.

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 volleyball second round

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“Ready na po. Gusto ko na nga kunin sa team e. Charot!” Pepito quipped.

Kidding aside, Pepito said she is always ready to dig Belen’s strong attacks and receive her loaded jump serve, and she believes that her young team will learn from the more experienced Lady Bulldogs.

“Excited lang kasi yung learnings from the NU team kasi ang daming experience ng mga yan. Excited kaming mas may matutunan sa kanila,” she said.

The ace libero wants UST to learn from its shaky performance against Ateneo, which pushed the Tigresses to their limits before they escaped with an 8-0 record.

“Yung decision making especially sa setting kasi kailangan naming sundin kung ano yung instructions ng coaches kasi yung nangyari [against Ateneo] tumataliwas yung sinasabi ng coaches sa ginagawa namin,” Pepito said. “Sana this coming next game sana mas pagkatiwalaan namin  yung coaches kasi sila yung mas nakakaalam kung pano kami makakakuha ng madaling panalo.”

Belen has the same mindset after NU gave up 31 errors against UP despite their bounce-back win to improve to a 6-2 UAAP record.

“Yung defense po namin, magiging malaking factor siya sa game namin against UST. Yung UST po, ma-depensa sila eh. Na-recall ko po before nung game namin parang halos anim na libero ‘yung nasa kabila, talagang ‘di mamatay ‘yung palo namin,” Belen said. 

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“Tatapatan lang namin kung ano yung binibigay nila s a’min na hindi dapat kami magpahuli na porket madepensa sila, titigl na kami. Dapat dun kami mag-thrive na parang nadedepensahan nila tayo so dapat tayo rin. Ibalik natin sa kanila na tayo rin kaya nating gawin.”

The do-it-all outside spiker is also putting a premium on consistency as they hope to get back at UST.

“Dapat yung consistency namin, nandun talaga kasi lalo na att UST kalaban namin next game and undefeated pa sila and nung nagkalaban kami, na-straight sets nila kami. Dapat yung laro namin, hindi siya inconsistent kasi once na maunahan kami ng UST, mahihirapan kaming makahabol,” said Belen.

TAGS: NU Lady Bulldogs, UAAP Season 86, UST Golden Tigresses

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