Untouchable NU sweeps La Salle, inches closer to historic UAAP crown
The long layoff seemed to have sharpened the unbeaten NU Lady Bulldogs all the more.
Coming off an eight-day break, the Lady Bulldogs hardly showed any rust and simply dominated the La Salle Lady Spikers, 25-20, 25-12, 25-21, to take Game 1 of the UAAP women’s volleyball finals on Saturday, June 18.
Bella Belen, Alyssa Solomon, Ivy Lacsina, and Cess Robles led the NU sweep as the Lady Bulldogs moved within a win of their first championship since 1957.
Belen, a rookie MVP candidate, unloaded 15 points built on 11 attacks, 2 blocks, and 2 aces.
The Lady Bulldogs – who also inched closer to a historic 16-0 season – proved to be on another level yet again as they shut down La Salle stars Jolina dela Cruz, Leiah Malaluan, and Thea Gagate.
For the first time since 1957, the NU Lady Bulldogs are closing in on a shot for the UAAP women’s volleyball championship as they take on the La Salle Lady Spikers in the Season 84 finals on Saturday, June 18.
Bannered by a young, star-studded core of rookie-MVP candidate Bella Belen, Jen Nierva, Alyssa Solomon, and Ivy Lacsina, among others, the Lady Bulldogs have not missed a beat on their way to a clean 14-0 elimination record to clinch an outright finals spot.
However, now standing in their way are the historically elite Lady Spikers, still coached by the legendary Ramil de Jesus. Featured in 11 of the last 12 UAAP finals, La Salle is fully expected to make NU earn its worth starting this Saturday in the best-of-three series.
“Going to the finals, I think it’s a level playing field,” said La Salle assistant coach Benson Bocboc. “I don’t think 14-0 has any value here. We start from zero and it’s now just a race to get two wins first.”
Come Saturday, volleyball fans will be treated to a sneak peek of Philippine volleyball’s future, as six of the top seven statistical leaders will go toe-to-toe with one another, including top blocker Thea Gagate, top digger Justine Jazareno, Nierva, the top receiver, and Belen, the top server.
“Of course, stepping to the championship [round], the challenge will be greater for us. For now we will enjoy this 14-0 achievement. We will celebrate, but we’ll go back right to work the next day,” Nierva said after sweeping the elimination round last June 9.
One team has cultivated a decade-long reputation as a title-or-bust program, while the other is making the most of a finals return 65 years in the making.
Only one team can strike first to set the tone.
Game tips off at 5 pm.