Surpassing expectations, the young yet talented National University (NU) squad shook the first round of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament as they gave their more experienced opponents a run for their money.
Players from the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles had nothing but praises for the NU Lady Bulldogs who put up a good fight in the first round despite being a rookie-laden squad.
While the Lady Eagles overpowered NU yesterday in four sets to clinch their sixth consecutive win and end the first round on top of the standings, the game proved to be difficult for the Katipunan squad.
The first set turned out to be a seesaw battle between both teams, with the Lady Bulldogs taking the one-set advantage after a high-reward play from Joni Chavez to Audrey Paran.
While the Lady Eagles responded back with a masterful win in the second set, both teams were back at it again in the deadlock-filled third set, with middle blockers Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag coming alive to take control of the game two sets to one.
The Katipunan squad never looked back as they started hot in the fourth set, leading early and creating momentum all the way to the end.
De Leon, who finished the game with 13 points, said the Lady Bulldogs proved to be a difficult team to go up against as they play every game without pressure and expectations.
“Rookies sila e, they’re very eager. I remember my first year, all I wanted to do was to get the best shots and enjoy every moment, so ‘yun ‘yung kalaban mo e, ‘yung enthusiasm that they have for the game,” De Leon said.
The team captain further added that their game against NU turned out to be one of their toughest games yet, commending them for putting up a strong fight in the first round.
“I really commend them–despite being rookies, kaya nilang makipagsabayan sa veterans and sa lahat ng teams sa UAAP,” De Leon said.
“Good thing we came out strong, but that was tough–that was one of the toughest yet for me, kasi it’s tougher to play a team that’s very loose, na talagang bahala na, enjoy lang kami,” she added.
Wing spiker Kat Tolentino, who finished with 10 points, echoed the same sentiment as she sees the Lady Bulldogs to become deadlier in the next games to come.
“They did a really good job and that was one of the harder games in the first round. I think the NU team was really strong, just considering their mindset was that for me, they have nothing to lose and they can beat an older team, and it was kind of a wake up call in the first set just seeing how they played,” Tolentino said.
Meanwhile, head coach Oliver Almadro commended his squad for maintaining composure against a more confident NU who came from a huge five-set victory over the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons last Wednesday, further adding that all teams should look out for the talented Lady Bulldogs in the second round.
“NU [came] from a good win last time, and ‘yung momentum is still with them, the energy, the intensity is still there. I already anticipated that, but I told my players to show them your character. They’re really a team to beat–they’re really talented rookies and matatapang maglaro,” Almadro said.