MANILA – The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs entered the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament as a heavy favorite after a historic 16-0 campaign in the previous year.
But the Lady Bulldogs saw their winning streak threatened at the early part of the tournament as the Adamson Lady Falcons pushed them to five sets. Fortunately for NU, they prevailed in the end.
In the succeeding game, however, the UST Golden Tigresses finally ended the winning run of Lady Bulldogs in another five-set thriller.
NU eventually recovered in their next games before De La Salle Lady Spikers overwhelmed them in straight sets, 25-10, 25-15, 25-21, to end the first round of eliminations.
Head coach Karl Dimaculangan pointed out their inconsistencies every game, making the results unpredictable.
“Siguro itong first round medyo shaky talaga. Bawat game may mga performance, kami sa group, na hindi namin alam kung magiging okay ba yung game namin o hindi. Swerte nananalo pa rin kami. And then ito na nga La Salle na straight set kami. Talo kami,” Dimaculangan said.
The champion coach admitted that they did expect tight battles this season, as all teams had longer time to prepare for Season 85.
He also mentioned the key additions to many teams, including super rookies such as La Salle's Angel Canino, Adamson's Trisha Tubu, and UST's Regina Jurado, that are playing significant roles in the tournament.
“Ine-expect namin na mas magiging mahirap itong game na ito. Unang-una offseason palang comfortable na yung mga kalaban namin. Mas mahaba kasi talaga yung preparation ng lahat ng teams ngayon. And may mga new players and sa amin naman nawala din players. Alam namin na ganito talaga kahirap,” he continued.
Reigning MVP Bella Belen also shared the same thoughts as her coach, adding that they need to focus on their training to address their inconsistencies.
“May mga games na hindi namin alam, like sa mga players po, kung makakapag-perform ba or what. I think, nags-start po yun sa preparation namin palagi, sa training, sa kung anong ginagalaw namin, kung paano kami nagte-training kaya ganun yung nagiging outcome ng game,” Belen explained.
She also said they lacked hunger in their performances in the first round, especially against La Salle which now stands alone on top of the standing with a perfect 7-0 record.
Belen said she hopes they can bring back the aggressiveness within the team to bounce back in the second half of the eliminations.
“Siguro balik kami sa self namin, kung ano yung talagang ultimate goal namin this season para mabalik yung hunger namin sa paglalaro,” she said.
NU will get tested immediately at the start of the second round as they will face La Salle anew on Saturday, March 25.
UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.