National University bucked its slow start and eked out an 18-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-18 victory against reigning champion Ateneo for its ninth straight win in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Saturday, May 28.
Michaela Belen spearheaded the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points built on 17 spikes and and two blocks, Princess Robles fired 15 attacks for 16 markers, while Alyssa Solomon hammered down 14 points as NU overcame an early slump and retaliated in the next three sets to take a flawless 9-0 record.
“Siguro wake up call din sa amin ‘yon (first set) na kailangan maglaro kami nang maayos. Kailangan paghirapan namin every point, every set,” said NU head coach Karl Dimaculangan. “Kasi ‘di kami puwedeng complacent sa mga situation ngayon. And Ateneo kahit anong standing nila, it’s still Ateneo pa rin. So kailangan magtrabaho kami nang maayos palagi.
“May ilang games pa kami bago pa dumating sa goal namin,” added Dimaculangan, emphasizing that the Lady Bulldogs should restart their mindset and fortity their mental toughness in the next couple of games.
In the fourth set, NU led by as many as six points, 22-16, capped by libero Jen Nierva’s lone point off a fake set to a dump.
Ateneo responded with two straight points as Robles committed a service error and followed up by Erika Raagas’ denial of the former to put the game within striking distance, 22-18.
Belen and Alyssa Solomon, however, assured that there won’t be an extra set as the two connived down the stretch with a block of Gandler and a solid kill, respectively.
Gandler paced the Blue Eagles, who fell to a 4-5 slate, with 19 points off 17 attacks and two blocks while Faith Nisperos chalked up nine spikes and a service ace for 11 markers.