National University dominated De La Salle University during the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament, sweeping all four matches and winning their first championship in 65 years.
The Lady Bulldogs, led by Mhicaela Belen, did not allow the Lady Spikers to win a single set in their four meetings last year – two in the elimination round and two in the Finals.
However, the Lady Bulldogs are aware that they will face a different De La Salle University team during Season 85. The Lady Spikers are the only unbeaten team in the eight-team field, with a record of 5-0, and have a game against Adamson University on Sunday before the finals rematch.
Belen, the reigning MVP and the only player to win the award during her rookie year believes that the biggest difference in the Lady Spikers’ lineup this year is newcomer Angel Canino.
Canino, who played for De La Salle-Zobel, was the only squad to break National University Nazareth School’s armor in the UAAP High School Girls division, winning the Season 81 crown over Belen and the Lady Bullpups.
Belen noted, “Ngayon po kasi may go-to player na sila,” after NU defeated Far Eastern University in straight sets on Saturday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.
“Talagang mas nagimprove po sila ngayon kumpara before. Ngayon po kasi makikita po natin na talagang palaban na rin sila, pumapalo na rin, so magiging challenge po sila sa amin.”
Meanwhile, middle blocker Sheena Toring emphasized the importance of NU having the right mindset from the start of the game against the Lady Spikers. Toring pointed out some games where the Lady Bulldogs came out flat, similar to when UP won a set against them.
“Dapat nandoon yung mindset namin kasi may ibang games na off kami, parang on and off,” said Toring.
“Of course, kailangan namin iimprove yun kasi La Salle yung kalaban namin dapat since first set pa lang, dapat nandoon na yung fire namin na gusto talaga naming manalo.”
Belen and Toring expressed their excitement at facing Canino, who was their teammate when they represented the Philippines in the 2019 ASEAN School Games, where they won a silver medal. The team was composed of NUNS players as well as Canino, Alleiah Malaluan of DLSZ, and Lyann De Guzman of FEU-Diliman.
“Syempre po excited na kami kasi matagal na po naming hindi nakalaban si Angel eh. We’re looking forward po sa Wednesday match,” said Belen.