UAAP Volleyball

Boosted by FEU wake-up call, Jaja Santiago visit, mighty NU regains title contender form

JR Isaga

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Boosted by FEU wake-up call, Jaja Santiago visit, mighty NU regains title contender form

STAR BULLDOGS. NU's Bella Belen (left) and Jaja Santiago react in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball Final Four

UAAP Season 86 Media Team

As if they needed any more motivation after a shock loss to No. 4 FEU, the NU Lady Bulldogs also gain an unexpected boost from school legend Jaja Santiago as they march back to the UAAP women's volleyball finals

MANILA, Philippines – Brushing off a real scare from feisty FEU, the NU Lady Bulldogs finally flexed their title-winning form with their backs against the wall, blasting the Lady Tamaraws in the UAAP Season 86 Final Four do-or-die match, 25-13, 27-25, 25-15, on Wednesday, May 8.

Possible MVP frontrunner Bella Belen flashed her all-around game anew with a 21-point explosion in just three sets off 16 attacks and 5 aces with 14 excellent receptions, while veteran blocker Sheena Toring celebrated her birthday with a season-best 11 points on a staggering 6 blocks and 5 attacks.

As if they needed any more motivation apart from their last sweep loss against FEU, the Lady Bulldogs also gained an unexpected boost from NU legend Jaja Santiago, who watched the three-set burial shortly after arriving home from her latest Japan tour of duty.

“Actually, I didn’t know she would be here. I was surprised to see her in the patron section, and I said, “Oh my God, Ate Jaja is here, I have to play my game right,” Toring said in Filipino. “The pressure was there, but still, I was inspired to play.”

“Seeing Ate Jaja was great, as well as our former teammates,” Belen added. “Because what we’re doing is not only for us, but also for our former teammates and former NU players who didn’t win a championship. We’re using them as our inspiration.”

Back in the finals for a third straight season, the Lady Bulldogs are facing an all new, yet all too familiar opponent in the big-hearted UST Golden Tigresses following the ouster of former champion La Salle.

Now that they have their priorities straightened out after a rattling Game 1 loss, Belen and the rest of NU are laser-focused on the task at hand: to win their second championship in three years and avenge their failed title defense in Season 85.

“We’re happy that we were able to bounce back against FEU and get back to the finals, but we’re not stopping even though we’re already there,” Belen continued.

“The goal isn’t achieved yet. We’re happy now, but we’re heading back to training tomorrow. We know our opponent is already preparing. But of course, we’ll prepare even better, so when the finals comes, we’ll really be ready.” –

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