MANILA, Philippines – The NU Lady Bulldogs kick off their UAAP women’s volleyball title defense with a blockbuster right out of the gate as they face fellow Final Four contender Ateneo Blue Eagles when Season 85 unfolds on Saturday, February 25, 2 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Bella Belen is expected to lead the way once more for NU after her historic rookie-MVP Season 84 run as Faith Nisperos and Vanie Gandler continue to hold down the fort for Ateneo. Also returning for the Lady Bulldogs – who captured their first UAAP championship in 65 years last season after a rare 16-0 sweep – are their entire award-winning starting six, captained by graduating libero Jen Nierva.
Following that match on Sunday, February 26, still at the MOA Arena is another 2 pm showdown between last season’s other two playoff contenders, the UST Golden Tigresses and the La Salle Lady Spikers.
It will be a battle of the old guard against the new as graduating MVP candidate Eya Laure rallies España to one more title shot, while Taft parades its highly anticipated rookie Angel Canino to mesh with its core of Leiah Malaluan, Thea Gagate, and Jolina dela Cruz, among others.
Other notable matchups on the calendar are the NU-UST match on Saturday, March 4, 2 pm, still at MOA, and the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry bout on Sunday, March 5, 2 pm, also at MOA.
UST and Ateneo face off on Wednesday, March 15, 2 pm, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre, while the men’s and women’s Ateneo-UP Battle of Katipunan will be on Sunday, March 19, also at FilOil.
The first round will wrap up with NU and La Salle clashing for the first time since the one-sided Season 84 women’s finals on Wednesday, March 22, 2 pm, at the MOA Arena.
The women’s division will share most first round game days with the men, except on March 1 and 8, where all women’s teams will play at the MOA Arena and Araneta Coliseum, respectively, while the men play at the PhilSports Arena.
Separate tickets for the women’s double-headers will be sold on March 5 for Ateneo-La Salle and all three FilOil game dates on March 15, 18, and 19.
As always, schedules are subject to change. – Rappler.com
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