National U, returning to old form, hits Adamson

National University star Bella Belen (No. 4) showed her most valuable playing form and said the defending champions need similar performances in their remaining matches.

National University star Bella Belen (No. 4) showed her most valuable playing form and said the defending champions need similar performances in their remaining matches. —UAAP MEDIA

Adamson’s conquest by National University (NU) was a morale-boosting moment for the defending champions. But Bella Belen said the team is hungry for more of the same performance heading into the final game of the UAAP’s ’85 women’s volleyball playoff round.

“This win will definitely boost our confidence. We played our finest game so far since the first round,’ Belen said after the Lady Bulldogs had a lot to do against the Lady Falcons, 26-24, 25-16, 25-22, on Wednesday. at the Filoil EcoOil Center.

“But we shouldn’t be content. We have to keep looking to improve by minimizing our mistakes and playing with consistency,” added last season’s most valuable player rookie.

The ruthless outside hitter bombarded Adamson with 20 points, including 18 high-octane kills, as National U picked up a second straight win, the team’s seventh overall in 10 games after a long break. Before those twin victories, NU’s title defense – and its confidence – was in crisis after back-to-back losses to tournament leaders La Salle in the space of four days.

Wild finish

With four more games to close out the second round – against Far Eastern University, University of the East, Ateneo and title contender University of Santo Tomas (UST) – the Lady Bulldogs are preparing for a wild end in the race for the Final Four after finding themselves locked in a three-way tie with UST and Adamson in second place.

“It’s up to us to discipline ourselves every time we play,” Belen said after gaining support from Alyssa Solomon and Evangeline Alinsug, who had 21 points and five blocks.

Setter Camilla Lamina was also easily one of NU’s strong suits after choreographing their smooth attack with 15 of her team’s 16 excellent sets.

The victory was a far cry from the way Lady Bulldogs were trailed in five sets by the Lady Falcons in the first round before picking up a victory.

“We always look at our previous losses and use them as motivation. It makes us fully aware that we have to keep building not just individually, but as a team,” Lamina said.

The two engaged in a back-and-forth skirmish throughout the first set, with Sheena Toring’s push leveling the count for the last time at 24 before the breaks that NU essentially needed.

Ateneo triumphs

Princess Robles uncorked a thunderous cross and Rizza Cruz’s miscalculated tip fell on the touchline, throwing Adamson off the edge and allowing the Lady Bulldogs to seal the opening frame.

The end came quicker for the Lady Falcons in the second set as the Lady Bulldogs were in complete control after breaking free from a close early fight. Adamson found no answer against the blitz of Solomon, Toring and Belen, whose crisp cross and silky push made it 24-16 before Myrtle Escanlar detonated another cross bomb.

The Lady Falcons put up a strong front one last time in the third, but were smothered time and time again by the Lady Bulldogs, who charged in with the continued bombardment of Belen and Robles.

“Our chemistry is very important. Again, we just stuck to the strategy our coaches laid out and trusted each other,” Lamina said.

In the previous match, Ateneo swept the University of the Philippines, 25-20, 25-17, 25-22, behind Faith Nisperos’ 17 points.

“We needed this victory if we want to go further. We have to have a committed mindset in every game,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro.

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