NU serves strong notice for its title-retention bid with impressive 3-set win over Ateneo in UAAP women’s volleyball tourney

NU serves strong notice for its title-retention bid with impressive 3-set win over Ateneo in UAAP women’s volleyball tourney

MANILA — National University served strong notice for its back-to-back title-retention bid via a three-set 25-15, 25-20, 25-16 win over Ateneo in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Alyssa Solomon had it so good for NU, as she came away with 10-of-19 kills to finish with 12 points as did Cess Robles who had a similar sterling performance made up of 11 points on a 10-of-14 attacks.

Robles also had eight digs as the Lady Bulldogs extended their winning ways to 17 games in as many outings since last year’s perfect run.

“Malaking bagay sa amin yung parang fresh start kasi kami eh. Ang mindset na muna namin yun pa rin, every game pa rin mula last season hanggang sa nag champion kami and ngayon panibago na ulit,” said NU’s second-year coach Karl Dimaculangan.

The Blue Eagles made things interesting late in the third set, saving five match points before a Faith Nisperos service error off a momentum-busting Lady Bulldogs timeout closed out the one-hour, 31-minute match.

Next assignment for NU is Adamson, which stomped University of the East in the opening match, 25-19, 25-9, 25-5.

The NU-Adamson match is on Wednesday.

Unleashing her new arsenal in the service area, reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen had two aces for a eight-point outing to go along with five receptions, setter Lams Lamina tossed in 17 excellent sets while libero Jen Nierva collected 11 digs and seven receptions.

Middle blockers Sheena Toring and Erin Pangilinan, who took over the spot left by Ivy Lacsina who turned pro last year, contributed seven points apiece for the Lady Bulldogs.

“Happy kami na nakikita namin kung ano yung pinagtrainingan namin at naa-apply namin sa game pero hindi kami magse-settle kasi marami pa rin kaming dapat i-improve,” said Solomon.

The Lady Falcons held the Lady Warriors to five points in the third set, matching the second all-time lowest output in a set. Far Eastern University also scored only five in the opening set of a 5-25, 23-25, 23-25 defeat to La Salle on March 8, 2017.

The men’s action returned for the first time in three years after the Covid pandemic that saw UE sweep Adamson, 25-18, 25-22, 25-14, to earn its first win of the season.

The Lady Falcons’ victory gave Jerry Yee a winning return in the league. Yee previously handled University of the Philippines in 2015-17 highlighted by a Season 78 Final Four stint.

The score was one-sided in the third set that Yee was able to dug deep from his reserves to get more court time.

“Good game for us to get playing time for all the players. Hopefully, the following games ma-sustain namin ito,” said Yee, as they brace for their first major test in the Lady Bulldogs.

Lucille Almonte led Adamson with 12 points, including two blocks, and eight digs, while Trisha Tubu had 11 points in her debut. Louie Romero tossed in 14 excellent sets and matched Almonte’s two blocks.

Ja Lana and KC Cepada each had seven points for the Lady Warriors.

Five players scored in double digits for UE, as JM Andaya went 14-of-23 attacks while Kenneth Culabat also scored 14 points, including two service aces, to go along with 16 receptions and seven digs.

“Lahat sumusunod lang and masaya ‘yung panalo kasi pinaghirapan din naman talaga and a lot of sacrifices were made by the team,” said Red Warriors assistant coach Jumbo Dimaculangan, who temporarily took over from head coach Jerome Guhit who had national team commitments.

Lloyd Josafat, fresh from a two-week national team training camp in Taiwan, Giles Torres and JP Mangahis each scored 10 points for UE.

The loss failed to give new Falcons coach George Pascua a winning debut. (Amado Inigo/MTVN)

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