UAAP Volleyball

NU sweeps FEU to brink, ousts Ateneo from Final Four for first time in 14 years

JR Isaga

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NU sweeps FEU to brink, ousts Ateneo from Final Four for first time in 14 years

ALL SMILES. NU starters Bella Belen (right) and Sheena Toring share a laugh at the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball tournament

UAAP Season 85 Media Team

NU wins its third straight game since dropping back-to-back sweeps against Final Four-bound La Salle, sending FEU to the brink of elimination and ousting once-mighty Ateneo from the running

MANILA, Philippines – The NU Lady Bulldogs continued their second-round resurgence with a 25-21, 25-14, 25-23 sweep to send the FEU Lady Tamaraws to the brink of elimination in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, April 16.

With the win, NU created a three-team logjam in second place with UST and Adamson with an 8-3 record, while also sending the Ateneo Blue Eagles (4-7) out of contention for the first time since Season 71 in 2009.

Also another side effect of the Lady Bulldogs’ victory is the La Salle Lady Spikers (9-1) booking the season’s first Final Four ticket, their 13th straight.

Alyssa Solomon had a much-needed top scoring performance after several quiet outings with a game-high 18 points on a 17-of-28 attack clip.

Reigning MVP Bella Belen scored 14, while rookie Vange Alinsug scattered 12 points off 6 attacks, 3 blocks, and 3 aces to go with 12 excellent digs.

Following a second-set beatdown, FEU bounced back in the third with a great 12-10 start after an Alinsug service error. Although NU sparked up a 7-2 run to take a 17-14 lead, the Lady Tamaraws quickly responded with a big 9-3 surge to mount a 23-21 advantage off a Solomon attack error.

Unfazed, the Lady Bulldogs took advantage of back-to-back FEU attack errors to forge a 23-all tie with back-to-back kills from Belen and captain Cess Robles to sneak ahead with the sweep-clincher.

“I’m happy with the result but at the same time, we still need to improve on some things,” Solomon said in Filipino. “We shouldn’t get tired of learning. We need more confidence every game.”

NU can formally clinch its return to the Final Four against the winless UE Lady Warriors on Saturday, April 22, 2 pm at the Mall of Asia Arena, while FEU looks to stay alive against now-eliminated Ateneo on Wednesday, April 19, 12 pm, at the same venue.

Over at the men’s division, NU stayed unscathed in the tournament with a four-set win over FEU, 28-26, 25-21, 26-28, 25-23, to clinch one of the coveted twice-to-beat perks.

With the Bulldogs’ win to rise to 12-0, idle UST (10-1) was also gifted the other twice-to-beat semis spot after the Tamaraws fell to a 6-6 slate, still in third place.

Buds Buddin led NU with 24 points and 22 excellent receptions while veteran Nico Almendras added 17 points and 15 excellent receptions.

Three other Bulldogs scored at least 12, including 13 from Ken Malinis hiked by a game-high 5 blocks.

FEU super scorer led the tight loss with 28 points off 24 attacks, 2 blocks, and 2 aces, as captain Jelord Talisayan chipped in 17 with 13 excellent receptions. –

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