UAAP: NU Lady Bulldogs clinch Final Four bonus after sweep of FEU

NU Lady Bulldogs' Bella Belen and Camilla Lamina in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

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

National University secured the first twice-to-beat advantage in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament with a 25-21, 25-19, 25-22 victory over fellow semifinal-bound Far Eastern University on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Alyssa Solomon sealed the deal for the Lady Bulldogs with 13 points built on 12 attacks and a block as NU improved to a 12-2 card to clinch the No.1 seed.

Contrary to the information given to the reporters last Wednesday, the league clarified that NU already clinched the top-seed, facing No.4 Far Eastern University in the Final Four on May 4.

SCHEDULE: UAAP Season 86 volleyball second round

“Masaya kami na we finished the second round of eliminations [with a win] pero regardless of that, ang mindset after this last game of elimination doon pa lang magii-start yung talagang laban,” coach Norman Miguel after leading the Lady Bulldogs on his first season back with the team.

“We have all been waiting for na makabalik uli sa Finals [so] masaya,” Miguel added.

Bella Belen was still her productive self and finished with 12 attack points, Vange Alinsug helped with 11 points and captain Erin Pangilinan contributed 10 points as NU awaits for its semifinal opponent.

NU Lady Bulldogs’ Alyssa Solomon. –MARLO CUETO/

“We’re very happy lang kasi maganda yung pinerform ng bawat isa samin pero I believe meron pa kaming kayang ilabas,” Belen said. “May kaya pa kaming gawin and na-apply naman yung mga pinag-praktisan namin and kung pano namin pinag-aralan yung FEU.

“Talagang nakita ko sa bawat isa na ginawa nila yung role nila kaya hindi kami ganon nahirapan,” Belen added as Miguel laughed with his ward with that remark.

READ: UAAP volleyball: NU Lady Bulldogs remain on track for No. 1 spot

“Pag narinig kasi yung twice-to-beat is parang nakakagaan siya sa feeling ng mga player pero hindi dapat kami umabot sa point na magamit namin yung twice-to-beat so kailangan unang semis game pa lang dapat all-out na talaga,” Belen said.

Sheena Toring added eight points, three coming from NU’s five blocks, while libero Shaira Jardio stepped up in defending the floor with 11 excellent digs and 16 excellent receptions as NU completed the second round unscathed.

FEU Lady Tamaraws’ Faida Bakanke in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

Faida Bakanke paced the Lady Tamaraws anew with 14 points with 10 attacks, three blocks and an ace. Gerzel Petallo scattered nine points like senior hitter Chenie Tagaod.

“Modesty aside, siguro nasa tamang timing lang kami dun sa pag angat ng performance namin but hindi kami pwedeng mag-relax doon, kailangan pa rin namin ingatan to,” Miguel said.

FEU will be moving on to the Final Four round despite dropping its fifth loss in 14 games.

READ: UAAP: Bella Belen challenges NU to ‘stay hungry’ amid streak

Already smelling blood after ruthlessly taking the first two sets, the Lady Bulldogs rushed to a five-point lead before Alinsug had a service error and Belen an attack error right after, 16-13.

Belen collected herself and delivered a spike before Tagaod caught fire and scored three consecutive points to level the game at 19-all.

Alyssa Solomon found a spot between the defense of FEU with a cross-court kill as Panglinan moved NU to match point and Alinsug’s own cross-court kill shut the doors on the Lady Tamaraws.

“Of course malaking bagay yung twice-to-beat advantage but then, para sa amin we don’t look at it na may ganong advantage,” Miguel said. “Kailangan talaga starting Game 1 all-out na talaga kami to finish the game.

“Para sa amin, regardless of the advantage hindi na namin siya iniisip eh, tatapusin kagad, pag-trabahuhan, mag-perform hundred percent and win the Game 1.”