NU, UST forge Finals duels in UAAP men’s, women’s volleyball
RAINING CATS AND DOGS

NU, UST forge Finals duels in UAAP men’s, women’s volleyball

Bella Belen Alyssa Solomon NU Lady Bulldogs UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Finals

NU Lady Bulldogs are aheaded to the the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals anew. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs have proven all season that teams may come out and beat them, but they won’t be able to do it again.

National avenged a stunning loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) and came out with a dominating 25-13, 27-25, 25-15 victory on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum that forged a showdown between two schools for both UAAP Season 86 volleyball crowns.

The Lady Bulldogs advanced to the Finals against idle University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the women’s division, on the same day the Growling Tigers made history by becoming the first No. 4 seed in the Final Four era to reach the championship, where they battle NU’s Bulldogs.

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The Lady Bulldogs, dragged to a knockout match after the Lady Tamaraws’ three-set surprise in the opener of their half of the semifinal bracket, burst out of the gates to seize control of the match.

“I feel like what changed in us after that Game 1 loss was the hunger in our game,” said Bella Belen, whose 16 kills highlighted a 21-point performance. “Like what coach said, we were reminded that it’s not over so why are we getting complacent?”

We told each other that if we really want to become champions, we need to work for it because we won’t get it easily,” Belen added.

Earlier in the men’s game, Santo Tomas, having forced No.1-ranked Far Eastern to use its twice-to-beat card, made the most of the opportunity by forging a 25-18, 21-25, 26-24, 26-24, victory in the deciding match.

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“It never crossed our minds that we were No. 4 and that we had no chance to make it to the Finals,” said reigning Most Valuable Player Josh Ybañez. “As long as there was a spot, no matter how small, that we could go through to reach the Finals, we will always try to find a way.”

Ybañez finished with 19 points while GBoy De Vega and Sherwin Umandal provided the crucial hits to seal the victory after a grueling two hours.

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“I just let them play the whole match,” said UST men’s coach Odjie Mamon. “I was a cheerleader earlier, not their coach. I let them play and they delivered.”

Game 1 schedule

Game 1 of the Finals for both men’s and women’s best-of-three series will start on Saturday, with the Bulldogs and the Tigers clashing at 2 p.m. and the Lady Bulldogs battling the Golden Tigresses at 4 p.m.—with both games slated at the Big Dome.

Belen and the Lady Bulldogs reached their third straight Finals appearance, largely benefitting from a different approach from their stint in the first semifinal encounter with the Lady Tams.

“A lot has changed in this game, firstly the personality of our players,” coach Norman Miguel said in Filipino.

“We know that [the Lady Bulldogs] have character, but with what happened [in the first game], we considered it as like a nudge that we are getting complacent,” Miguel added. “There are people who are saying that FEU has a bigger heart to get the game today,” Miguel said. “So I told them, let’s have the biggest heart to get it.”

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The Tigresses, meanwhile, ousted defending champion La Salle in just one game to reach the Finals earlier.

TAGS: Far Eastern University (FEU), National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, UAAP Season 86 volleyball

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