No longer trying too hard, NU rediscovers vaunted form

NU Lady Bulldogs’ Bella Belen.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Before the start of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, National University (NU) underlined redemption as its theme after getting its heart broken by La Salle in their Finals series last year.

But in trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered dreams, the Lady Bulldogs may have tried too hard to reach their goal.

“Sometimes in our desire to get back and uphold that word, redemption, we forget to enjoy and show our real game,” NU star Bella Belen told the Inquirer in Filipino after a dominant 25-14, 25-14, 25-12 triumph against hapless University of the East (UE) on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“I feel like we are still on our way to redemption, but more on how we can rise as a team and raise our performance. That’s where we are right now,” Belen said as NU improved to an 8-2 standing. “Because we know that we still have a lot to improve every game to get our goal this season.”

And the Lady Bulldogs are nearing that goal with just four games left in their preliminary schedule. After hurdling past University of the Philippines to begin a three-game winning run in the second round, NU delivered a clinical performance to exact revenge on University of Santo Tomas (UST) before easily handling UE.

Season 85 tormentor La Salle, which dealt NU its second loss this season, is still among the squads left for the Lady Bulldogs to face, but this time Belen believes that they can continue their momentum and rush to the Final Four round full speed ahead.

“I think that the team is ready and I am confident that the team is capable,” said Belen while adding that there is still more left in the Lady Bulldogs’ tank in terms of getting better.

“We are near our peak form, but not quite there yet because I know that my teammates can give and do more like what we showed during our tuneups before the season,” she added.

Motivated

No team has slowed NU down in the second round and there is excitement among the Lady Bulldogs along with discussions of how they can be stronger when the Final Four round comes.

“Like in our game against UST, our motivation is to get even with them, correct our mistakes that we did in our La Salle game and [figure out] why we lost,” she said.

But unlike before when they were single-minded on redemption, the Lady Bulldogs know that they cannot be careless rushing ahead.

“We always say to focus on one game at a time,” said Belen who remained consistent with 13 points on eight attacks, four blocks and an ace as well as 10 excellent digs and the same number of receptions.

“Like what ate [Alyssa Solomon] said earlier, the more we rush things, the more that we cannot achieve our goal so we need to take our time and be always conscious of our movement so we are aware of where we are and what is the level of our game now,” she added.

Solomon had 14 points to lead NU, which had a field day attacking UE’s defense. The Lady Warriors failed to score a single point off blocks.



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Defensively, the Lady Bulldogs also bared their teeth, holding UE super rookie Casiey Dongallo to a career-low six points after entering the match averaging over 23 points per game.

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