UAAP: Youthful NU not satisfied with big win vs. La Salle

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2022 01:03 PM

NU rookie Michaele Belen celebrates with her teammates after scoring against the De La Salle Lady Spikers in their UAAP Season 84 first round game. UAAP Media
NU rookie Michaele Belen celebrates with her teammates after scoring against the De La Salle Lady Spikers in their UAAP Season 84 first round game. UAAP Media

MANILA, Philippines -- Already tipped to contend ahead of the UAAP Season 84 women's volleyball tournament, National University (NU) put the league on notice after a convincing victory against perennial powerhouse De La Salle University on Tuesday afternoon.

What was expected to be a grind-it-out contest against two teams with championship aspirations instead turned out to be a showcase of the Lady Bulldogs' firepower.

They needed just three sets to defeat the Lady Spikers, coming away with a 25-22, 25-15, 25-19 triumph in an hour and 34 minutes. A balanced effort got it done for NU: Alyssa Solomon (14), Michaela Belen (13) and skipper Princess Robles (12) all finished in double digits as setter Camilla Lamina earned Player of the Game honors with 15 excellent sets.

"Nag-stick lang kami sa game plan namin, so then 'yung mga bata na-execute nila maayos siguro 'yung game plan, and enjoy-in lang 'yung game. So ayun, good win," said NU coach Karl Dimaculangan, whose team improved to 3-0 in Season 84.

They currently share first place with the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. 

This was NU's first victory against La Salle since UAAP Season 80, when Jaja Santiago was still starring for the Lady Bulldogs. But Dimaculangan insisted afterward that it was not a statement win for his youthful team.

"Hindi pa rin," he said. "Katulad nung mga players, 'di pa rin sila satisfied sa games."

"Siguro, i-celebrate namin ngayong araw itong panalo na 'to. But tomorrow then the next day, start kaming mag-[trabaho] ulit. Job's not yet finished pa," he stressed. "Hindi pa kami satisfied hanggang sa ma-reach namin 'yung goal namin."

The Lady Bulldogs themselves were quick to downplay their victory. Belen, their prolific rookie, was proud of how they executed their game plan and the way that they limited the Lady Spikers. Yet as impressive as they were, Belen pointed out that they could have been more efficient.

Only one La Salle player reached double figures in scoring -- rookie Alleiah Malaluan, who had 10 points. But La Salle couldn't convert against an active NU defense, tallying just 22 kills against the Lady Bulldogs' 40. 

"For me po, 'di pa po ako satisfied doon sa galaw namin," said Belen, one of a handful of rookies playing for NU this season. "Masyado pa po kaming madaming error. I think may mas ibe-better pa po 'yung galaw namin."

The Lady Bulldogs gave away 26 points off their errors, but were able to make up for it through their offense as well as their service game. NU scored 10 points off their serve, with Belen accounting for four aces.

NU will face the winless University of the East on Thursday.