Tue 28 June 2022

PERFECTION: National U sweeps UAAP v’ball tourney and Finals

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An eight-year project has ended for the National University (NU), culminating in the greatest women’s collegiate volleyball team in recent history anchored on the most dominant girls’ high school volleyball core in the past decade.

That process has reached its ultimate destination as the NU Lady Bulldogs swept the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball finals and tournament in a most dominant fashion.

The crown has returned to Sampaloc for the first time since 1957 as the 16-0 squad routed eleven-time women’s champion De La Salle University–25-15, 25-15, 25-22—in Game Two of the Finals Tuesday evening at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The starting six, as they have done all season long, has delivered a well-balanced charge, to lead their squad to victory.

Rookie opposite spiker Alyssa Solomon led her team in scoring with 18 points off 15 spikes and three blocks; season Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year (ROY) Mhicaela Belen added 16 points off 13 spikes and three blocks; setter Camilla Lamina registered 14 excellent sets; middle blocker Ivy Lacsina had eight points; and backliners Princess Robles and Jen Nierva had 15 and 19 excellent digs, respectively.

All six, together with regular rotation players Sheena Toring, Joyme Cagande, Erin Pangilinan, and Kamille Cal all came from the NU Nazareth high school program which won five girls titles from 2014 to 2020.

Belen became the only ROY-MVP in tournament history on top of being the season’s Best Outside Spiker. In addition, Solomon was named Best Opposite Spiker, Nierva as Best Libero, Toring as Second Best Middle Blocker, and team captain Robles as the Finals MVP.

La Salle’s Thea Gagate (Best Middle Blocker) and Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos (Second Best Outside Spiker) were the only non-Nationalians to have won awards.

“Yung pagod, hirap, at sikap nasuklihan lahat. Worth it lahat,” Robles exclaimed after the game.

Indeed, all of the team members’ hard work paid off for the past eight years.

Statistically, the Season 84 Lady Bulldogs is the most dominant team in the collegiate level since 2006, winning all 14 elimination round games and sweeping the finals in straight sets, giving no quarters to the Lady Archers.

So dominant that Belen quipped, “Kagabi pa lang alam kong mananalo kami. Kasi sa training namin halos makita na namin yung langit so nagbunga naman lahat ng pinagtrabahuan namin noong training.”

They had edged the also undefeated Season 77 Ateneo Lady Eagles in having less sets lost (5-7) and less points allowed (839-926), as well as in the Finals (105-118).

The Season 84 Lady Bulldogs were even better than the Season 71 University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers, as the latter allowed 112 points in the finals against the University of Santo Tomas.

That UST men’s team was led by ex-Thomasian setter and current NU head coach Ray Karl Dimaculangan.

“Mas emotional itong pagiging coach na nag-champion kasi maraming doubts from the start pero worth naman yung naging resulta,” the Season 71 MVP said, who began his coaching career with a three-win, 13-loss card with the University of the East Lady Warriors from Season 81 to the pandemic-shortened Season 82.

The Lady Bulldogs are up to building a dynasty after Season 84, as the current squad has no graduating players, though Lacsina, Nierva, and Robles may forego a possible fifth year if they wish to turn pro.

Nierva, the season’s Best Libero and face of the team, answered that question and, speaking for herself, guaranteed her community, “I still want to play for NU.”

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