UAAP: Belen, Ybañez lead respective teams to crucial wins

UAAP: Belen, Ybañez lead respective teams to crucial wins

/ 02:29 PM March 25, 2024

Bella Belen NU Lady Bulldogs beat UST Tigresses UAAP Season 86 volleyball

Bella Belen and the NU Lady Bulldogs.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Leaders are expected to be counted upon when their teams need them the most, and that is exactly the role Bella Belen and Josh Ybañez filled as the crucial second round got going in the UAAP Season 86 volleyball tournaments.

Known for their all-around brilliance, the two MVPs earned their second Collegiate Press Corps’ UAAP Player of the Week awards for leading their respective teams, the NU Lady Bulldogs and UST Golden Spikers, to big wins for the period March 20 to 24.

Belen, who tallied 21 points, 12 excellent receptions, and eight excellent digs in a 25-21, 30-32, 25-17, 25-19 win over UP on Wednesday, capped off Sunday with an even better 24-point, 13-dig, 10-reception line as NU ended UST’s 8-0 start, 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20.

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Teary-eyed after the hard-earned win against the Golden Tigresses, the third-year star gushed over how well her teammates performed around her to lift the Season 84 champion squad. 

“Ayaw namin kasi maulit ‘yung nangyari noong La Salle game na after the game, mayroon kaming what ifs, mayroon kaming panghihinayang,” said Belen, who earned her second weekly nod this season.

The first-ever UAAP women’s Rookie MVP bested her teammate Vange Alinsug, UST’s Reg Jurado, Ateneo’s Zel Tsunashima, UE’s Casiey Dongallo, and La Salle’s Angel Canino in a unanimous vote for the weekly award.

“Siguro naging mindset lang namin is dapat after nitong game, wala kaming what ifs, kailangan ibigay talaga yung best namin and ‘yun, naging emotional po kaming lahat kasi talagang nakita namin na binigay namin ‘yung best namin,” Belen added.

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Josh Ybanez UST beats NU UAAP Season 86

Josh Ybañez celebrates after leading UST’s rally past NU in the UAAP Season 86 men’s volleyball tournament.–UAAP PHOTO

Ybañez, for his part, went on a scoring tear as he exploded for a new career-high 34 points to go with 25 excellent receptions on Sunday to lead UST’s elimination round sweep of three-time defending champion NU, this time in a five-set turnaround from a 0-2 deficit, 28-30, 22-25, 25-23, 25-22, 15-9.

“Masaya naman po ako kasi actually kahit hindi ko nakikita ‘yung score, as long as kaya kong mag-contribute sa team, kahit sa anong pamamaraan, sa malakas man o sa mahina, gagawin ko po ‘yun,” said Ybañez, who won his second straight weekly citation.

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The reigning MVP edged out Ateneo’s Jian Salarzon and Ken Batas, NU’s Jade Disquitado, Adamson’s Francis Casas, and FEU’s Jayjay Javelona.

“Sobrang happy ako kasi it’s a collaborative effort. Nag-contribute lang ako, pero ‘yung team ang nagpanalo,” added Ybañez.

This Sunday stunner was a timely erasure of the Golden Spikers’ painful loss on Wednesday at the hands of underdog Ateneo, 22-25, 26-24, 25-23, 26-28, 15-9, that wasted Ybañez’s previous career-best scoring mark of 33.

With Belen at the helm, NU climbed to 7-2 to maintain a striking distance from leaders UST (8-1) and La Salle (7-1) for the coveted Top 2 and twice-to-beat Final Four incentives in the women’s division.

The Golden Spikers (5-4), meanwhile, stayed afloat in the Final Four race at joint fourth place with Ateneo.

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UAAP volleyball takes a break in observance of the Holy Week before resuming action on April 3.

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

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