There has been a big upsurge in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. A brand new super power is emerging.
The National University (NU), hidden in the ages, is slowly milking the rewards of a low-key, long-term reconstruction and elevating the traditional heavyweight to an still unbeaten record in season 84.
But now that his team’s position is as comfortable as possible, NU coach Carl Dimakulangan has warned his wards that things are going to get tough.
“Like what I told them in the first round, we can’t be complacent,” said Dimakulangan in the Filipino. “Now in the second round, this is another challenge for us. We hope things get tougher. And everyone has to work hard to win. “
It didn’t look exactly that way in NU’s opening game of the second round of the tournament on Thursday night.
Against one of the few Lady Bulldogs talent-oriented teams to have a chance, NU overcame La Salike 25-21, 25-20, 25-17 in a strange blend of sheer firepower and subtlety.
“I’m glad we showed what we’ve done in training,” said Princess Robbels, a high-powered outfielder who scored 17 points to calm La Salle’s remnants from the championship year.
Michela Belen and Alyssa Solomon assisted him with 14 and 11 points, respectively, forming a deadly triumvirate for the squad that last won the UAAP Championship in the 1950s.
“Nothing special [about NU’s game]Said the soft-spoken Dimakulangan. “I tell them not to rush, just to play their game. We don’t really focus on the results but on the things we learn in each game. And they listen to these players and do a very good job. “
High school program
The result, though, is an eight-game winning start to the season, not by a highly-aspiring recruiter but through a program that began with NU’s championship-rich high school squad. Robels, Belen and Solomon give a key lead promoted from the school’s girls team.
And just as they are slowly evolving into a strong force at the senior level, so is Dimakulangan, who is fighting the best strategists in the country today.
“I am still a new coach. I am still a student of sports, ”he said. “I still have a lot to learn from other coaches and in the upcoming games.”
The next champion for the Lady Bulldogs is Atenio Blue Eagles in a clash scheduled for 4pm at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday. What makes that battle even more interesting is that another product of NU’s Wanted Nazareth High School program, led by Ateneo, Faith Nisperos.
The Nisperos and Eagles lost to Lady Bulldogs 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-22 in their first round showdown.
But as found in La Salle, finding payback against NU is not easy.
Ivy Lacsina, Jen Nierva and Camilla Lamina— are also products of the Nazareth School.
Meanwhile, the second-ranked University of Santo Thomas won its fourth consecutive match against Tormentor University of the Philippines in the first round at 12:30 pm.
Adamson will take on the undefeated University of the East at 10 a.m., while La Salle will try to return at 6:30 a.m. against Far Eastern University in the nightcap.
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