Lady Bulldogs punish UE

Bella Belen rediscovers her fine form for a bounce-back performance to lead NU to a straight-sets win over UE in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament. Photo courtesy of UAAP

Reigning Most Valuable Player Bella Belen bounced back from a listless outing with an inspired game to power defending champion National University to a 25-23, 25-9, 25-12, demolition of University of the East in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The open spiker scattered 13 points hinged on 11 kills and had seven excellent receptions in the Lady Bulldogs’ clinical 69-minute thrashing of the Lady Warriors for back-to-back wins that hiked their win-loss record to 4-1 at the second spot.

NU had a sloppy opening set before regrouping in the next two to complete its dominating win.

“We had a slow start especially in the first set where we committed a lot of errors but in this game we just told ourselves to play as a team, execute what we trained and just enjoy the game,” Belen, who went scoreless in her short stint in NU’s four-set win over University of the Philippines last Wednesday, said.

UE kept the game close in the first set and was just down by one, 23-22, only to give NU a free point off a service error by Ja Lana. Alyssa Solomon sent her serve to the net as the Lady Warriors saved a set point before making up for her lost point with the frame-clinching down-the-line kill.

It was all Lady Bulldogs in the second and third sets.

Solomon finished with 14 attacks for 15 points while Erin Pangilinan got 10 points including four kill blocks for NU. Libero Jen Nierva, who was also benched the last time out, has seven digs and six excellent receptions.

UE absorbed its fifth loss in as many games.

KC Cepada and Vanessa Bangayan got seven points each.

In the other match, Adamson made short work of Ateneo de Manila, 25-18, 25-23, 25-19, for its third straight win.

The Lady Falcons improved to 4-1 while the Blue Eagles dropped to 1-4.

In men’s play, three-peat-seeking NU survived UE’s upset scare, 22-25 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 15-6, to remain unbeaten in five games.

Crippled in the opening set after Nico Almendras was slapped with a one-frame ban after getting booked with yellow and red cards due to an ‘unsportsmanlike’ infraction in a testy five-set match against University of the Philippines last Wednesday and with Ken Malinis out due to an unspecified illness, the Bulldogs found themselves down two sets.

NU, with Almendras back, regrouped in the next three frames to hike its record to 5-0 and collect its 18th straight victory over UE.

The Bulldogs extended their overall winning streak since 2019 to 23.

Michael Fortuna finished with a game-high 25 points including 24 off attacks while Congolese Obed Mukaba got half of his 18 points on kill blocks to send the Red Warriors to their third loss in five matches.

Almendras got 17 points with all but one coming off kills while setter Owa Retamar dished out 21 excellent sets that set up NU to hitting 72 hits.

UE slides to a 2-3 slate.

Lloyd Josafat and Kenneth Culabat had 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Red Warriors.

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