MANILA, Philippines – NU Lady Bulldogs star Bella Belen quickly immortalized herself in UAAP women’s volleyball lore with one of the most impressive rookie campaigns ever in the recently concluded Season 84.
Before capping off a rare 16-0 season sweep to win NU its first title in 65 years, the national team prospect bagged three individual awards – 1st Best Outside Spiker, Rookie of the Year, and Most Valuable Player – making her the only rookie MVP in UAAP women’s volleyball history.
No one, not even some of the country’s biggest volleyball stars like Alyssa Valdez and Jaja Santiago, has achieved this level of success in a debut season, but Belen just burst to the scene and – almost too easily – ran roughshod of the competition as a teenager.
However, the former NU high school star seemingly already has her career priorities straightened out, even at just 19 years old, after she said that there is a lot more work to do despite a perfect, dreamlike season.
“I still need to work and I can’t stop with what I’ve gotten today,” she said in Filipino after their championship romp. “As our coach said before, every day, someone might be born who will be better than us, so that’s why I’m not satisfied with who I am today.”
“Today, I’m a rookie MVP, but someone better will be born tomorrow, so I have to go back to work, and I can’t stop.”
Sure enough, Belen’s consistent work ethic showed on the court throughout the season.
Although the Lady Bulldogs were never fully pushed to the limit thanks to their overwhelming dominance, NU’s leading scorer played the game with full effort and respect, effortlessly paired with infectious charisma.
Belen ended as the league’s third-best scorer behind UST’s Eya Laure and Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos, ranked first in serves while also tying a league-record 8 aces in a single game, finished sixth overall in receptions, and eighth in digs.
Even with the entire UAAP now bowing to the young Lady Bulldogs, Belen firmly believes their work as a team – not just her own – is far from over. After all, winning the title is one thing, but retaining it to prove the run was not a fluke is another story altogether.
“We’re not going to stop with the 16-0 sweep. I believe there is still a lot more that NU can show because we are a really hardworking team,” she said.
“If you must know, no one in training wants to lose. That [spirit of] competition carries over as a team and that’s great because we keep helping one another to improve.” – Rappler.com