UAAP: NU braces for showdown against much-improved La Salle


Posted at Mar 22 2023 04:00 AM | Updated as of Mar 22 2023 03:47 PM

La Salle will try to complete a first-round sweep against defending champion NU. UAAP Media.
La Salle will try to complete a first-round sweep against defending champion NU. UAAP Media.

MANILA -- National University is expecting an intense match when they play De La Salle University in their final first round game of the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball tournament on Wednesday. 

Game time is at 2:00 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Lady Spikers looking to complete a sweep of the first round after having won their first six assignments. 

The Lady Bulldogs, for their part, are looking to extend their dominance against La Salle. NU won all four of their matches against the Lady Spikers in Season 84 without dropping a single set en route to an unbeaten campaign and the championship.

But NU star Bella Belen, the reigning rookie-MVP, says La Salle has changed a lot since then.

"Ngayon po kasi may go-to player na sila. Talagang mas nag-improve po sila ngayon, kumpara before. Ngayon po kasi makikita po natin na talagang, palaban na rin sila, may mga pumapalo na rin," said Belen after NU's 25-21, 25-9, 25-18 sweep of Far Eastern University last Saturday.

Leading the way for La Salle so far is rookie star Angel Canino, who is the league's third-best scorer with 98 points through six games. She is the second-best spiker with a 38.5% efficiency rate, the eighth best server with 0.29 ace per set, and the third-best receiver with an efficiency of 40%.

She is a familiar foe for Belen and the Lady Bulldogs, as they have had a rivalry dating back to their high school days.

"Magiging challenge po siya sa amin," Belen said of their match against the Lady Spikers. "Magpe-prepare lang po kami, babalik lang kami sa team, sa sarili namin na kung ano 'yung dapat naming i-improve this game, na dapat naming i-apply sa next game."

NU brings a 5-1 record to the match, having lost to the University of Santo Tomas in their third game of the season. 

La Salle, coming off a four-set win over Adamson last Sunday, is determined to end the first round with a perfect slate.

"Asahan niyo po 'yung game namin na lumaban. Kasi Season 84 is different, and Season 85, sobrang laki ng pinag-iba ng team," guaranteed Canino. "So asahan niyo pong lalaban kami. Ilalabas namin kung anong meron kami, at kung anong pwedeng ilabas namin as a team, and as an individual."

At 12:00 PM, the Lady Falcons will look to bounce back against the University of the Philippines.

Opening the day's quadruple-header at the Pasay City venue is the men's showdown between Adamson and UP at 10:00 AM, before the NU Bulldogs and the De La Salle Green Spikers close out the day's schedule at 4:00 PM.

 UAAP Season 85 is streaming on iWantTFC every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, available for Premium users outside the Philippines.