UAAP: NU Lady Bulldogs sweep UST Tigresses for volleyball title

UAAP: NU Lady Bulldogs sweep UST Tigresses to regain volleyball crown

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 09:10 PM May 15, 2024

NU Lady Bulldogs the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball championship UST Tigresses UAAP Finals

NU Lady Bulldogs celebrate after winning the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball championship with a sweep of UST Tigresses. -MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Alyssa Solomon slid from the back row and knelt before setting up Bella Belen for an authoritative cross court hit, bringing the National University Lady Bulldogs a point away from collaring the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

The Lady Bulldogs eventually completed their chase for redemption by defeating the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses 25-23, 23-25, 27-25, 25-16, before 22,515 screaming souls at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night.

“My mindset before the game was to give my best. It was now or never,’’ said Alyssa Solomon, the Finals MVP after they swept the Tigresses in the second game of their best-of-three championship showdown.

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HIGHLIGHTS: UAAP Season 86 volleyball Finals NU vs UST Game 2

Solomon went full throttle with 27 points built around 20 attacks on top of four blocks and three aces in an all-around performance that their rivals surprisingly found no answer.

Belen, who was named season MVP earlier, delivered 19 points, 16 of them kills, while helping her team protect their side of the floor with 11 digs and nine receptions.

“We knew we cannot be complacent against UST. Our emotions were high because all our hard work bore fruit,’’ said Belen, shedding tears of joy with her teammates after Sheena Toring scored the championship point off the block.

READ: UAAP: NU hushes UST’s Yellow Sea with dominant Finals win

It was the second title of the Lady Bulldogs in three seasons, redeeming themselves from a missed championship opposite La Salle last year. The Lady Bulldogs captured their fourth trophy in the tournament overall.

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“We have a solid character. If they say that they will bounce back, they will never stop until they achieve it,’’ said NU coach Miguel Norman.

With their fiercest warrior—Angge Poyos—injured due to a sprained right ankle in Game 1, the Tigresses looked wounded as well, losing another championship after the one that got away in Season 81 against Ateneo.

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NU Lady Bulldogs the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball championship UST Tigresses UAAP Finals alyssa solomom

NU Lady Bulldogs’ Alyssa Solomon with former NU star Jaja Santiago after winning the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball championship. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIREr.net

Poyos was fielded in the first set and played briefly in the third frame, leaving hitters Jonna Perdido, Xyza Gula, Regina Jurado and middle blocker Em Banagua to fill the void.

“There were a lot of ups and downs during the season, but they vowed to fight until the end,’’ said Norman.

Erin Pangilinan palmed a quick attack at the center and Belen’s power tip pushed the Lady Bulldogs to a five-point advantage, prompting UST to break the rally with a timeout.

Jurado and Banagua orchestrated the fightback as the Tigresses mounted a run of their own to even up matters at 20 before Belen again took it upon herself.

Belen’s off-speed spike stopped the bleeding for NU and Solomon quashed the hopes of their rivals in the opening set with three consecutive strikes.

The Tigresses set the tone in the second set and seemed headed to knotting the count after Solomon miscalculated her attack, 19-15, in UST’s favor.

Toring rose to the occasion and cut it down to two with a pair of down-the-line smashes plus a block on Gula.

But Perdido and Cassie Carballo steadied the Tigresses with a brilliant off-the-block spike and a push that confused the Lady Bulldogs as they weathered Solomon’s powerful incursions.

Gula then punched a magnificently tossed projectile at set point, resetting the match after two frames.

Despite UST seizing control through the prowess of Gula, the Lady Bulldogs managed to steal the third set away on sheer desire and patience.

NU Lady Bulldogs the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball championship UST Tigresses UAAP Finals

UST Tigresses and NU Lady Bulldogs meet at center court after the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball finals. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

They erased a four-point deficit with Solomon and Belen countering Gula’s gallantry and finally led on Belen’s off-the-block smash, 26-25, sending the NU side of the crowd in pandemonium.

Gula soared for another attack, but Toring was there to deflect the potential game-tying hit at set point.

READ: UAAP: Bella Belen praises NU crowd inside ‘QPav-like’ Araneta

The Lady Bulldogs were on point from thereon, zooming ahead to an 11-6 lead in the fourth frame as they contained any form of counter-offensive.

Solomon’s attack blunder slashed NU’s advantage to three, but the Tigresses squandered the opportunity to chop it down further on successive errors by Jurado, Perdido and Carballo.

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Smelling blood, the Lady Bulldogs came back to life with Alinsug, Toring and Solomon exchanging firepower before Belen went to work one last time with a tip and a crosscourt hit, bringing them to the championship point.

Toring struck the final smash of the season off the block, emptying the NU bench as they hugged, cried and celebrated under the glare of the bright lights and their legion fans inside the arena.

TAGS: UAAP Season 86

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