Lady Bulldogs eye date with destiny after six decades

NU Lady Bulldogs’ Mhicaela Belen — THE UAAP

A DATE with a long-coveted destiny after six decades awaits undefeated National University (NU) when it goes for the jugular against La Salle in Game 2 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament best-of-three finals series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

The Lady Bulldogs last won a UAAP women’s volleyball title in 1957, making their tussle versus the Lady Spikers at 6:30 p.m. a huge chance to end the agonizing drought for good in a grand, sweeping fashion.

Should the stars align, NU would achieve it through a dream 16-0 season — the same feat completed by the Ateneo team led by Alyssa Valdez back in Season 77.

But that bid, as huge as the stakes and the rewards are, is anticipated to be a tough nut to crack.

“May mga silly mistakes kami noong Game 1 na kailangan pa namin i-workout. We have to sustain our energy and focus. Our mindset is always staying ready,” said coach Karl Dimaculangan after a resounding Game 1 win.

NU, which enjoyed a week-long rest as an automatic finalist, hardly broke a sweat in the series opener by scoring a 25-20, 25-12, 25-21 win over a La Salle side that still needed to come out from the stepladder semifinals.

That was the Lady Bulldogs’ ninth straight win in as many sets in three games against the Lady Spikers as the glaring indication of their season-long dominance.

Still, NU braces for a fiery La Salle fightback built on its established winning tradition following its 11th finals appearance in the last 12 seasons.

NU’s prized spiker Mhicaela Belen, who is a strong contender for both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the ceremony at 5:30 p.m. before the game, shares the same sentiment.

Down but not out, La Salle for its part vows a strong resistance to extend the series with an expected bounce back game from gunners Alleiah Malaluan, Leila Cruz, Jolina Dela Cruz, Fifi Sharma, and Thea Gagate after struggling in the opener. — John Bryan Ulanday