By Kenneth Joshua Dalde

PHOTO: Inquirer Sports

"A team that stays together, wins together."

The NU Lady Bulldogs relied on their strong chemistry and familiarity to shatter both their 65-year-old title drought and the DLSU Lady Spikers via 25-15, 25-15, 25-22 sweep in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 84 Women's Volleyball finals held at the MOA arena, Tuesday night. 

The Sampaloc-based spikers were products of the winning system of NU Nazareth School led by the first-ever UAAP Women's volleyball Rookie-MVP Mhicaela Belen who dropped 16 points to conclude her team's campaign in a rare 16-0 sweep this season. 

Joined by six rookies hoping to extend their supremacy from UAAP juniors to the collegiate level, NU successfully turned this into reality with the help of best opposite spiker Alyssa Solomon who erupted 18 markers against LaSalle.

“Pressure is always there no matter what happens and we have been used to it during our high school championship runs,” said Best Libero Jennifer Nierva. 

“That experience helped us stay composed every game and every win, even if expectations continued to rise.”

The Lady Spikers started hot in the first frame as they orchestrated a 10-6 lead against the Lady Bulldogs, but Belen sizzled with nine points to complete their 19-5 retaliation which sealed the set, 25-15.

NU, a newly-mentored squad at the hands of Coach Karl Dimaculangan, duplicated their efforts in the second set as the Lady Bulldogs sprinted to an 18-8 cushion after Nierva's smart 1-2 play that boosted her team to a 25-15 set triumph.

Hunting for their 12th crown were the Lady Spikers who managed to take the lead over NU, 20-17, courtesy of Matet Espina's tremendous ace after a tactical shuffling of players by Coach Ramil de Jesus. 

The momentum did not last for DLSU as the ladies in blue and gold heard a wake up call to unleash a 7-0 spread reaching the championship point, 24-20.

DLSU threatened to extend their lives after two crucial errors committed by the Lady Bulldogs, 22-24, but a costly service error from Thea Gagate sent her former teammates to the golden throne.

Like in Game 1, no Lady Spiker had scored in double digits with Gagate only settling for eight points. 

NU Team captain Princess Robles can now be called a 'queen' as she bagged the finals MVP trophy after tallying 6 attacks and 15 excellent digs, on top of her 12 points in Game 1. 

The Lady Bulldogs displayed their mastery over DLSU in the entire season as they won 12-0 sets against the Lady Spikers in their all matches. 

"Nakita ko 'yung maturity ng mga bata. Very important 'yung napagdaanan din nila noong high school. I'm proud to say [that] they dominated high school before, bago sila grumaduate. So, nadala nila ng college," said Nierva in an interview.

"'Yung jelling na meron kami, even before high school, hindi nila pinakawalan. Dala-dala nila hanggang ngayon. Masayang-masaya po ako." she added.

It was indeed the drought-ending chemistry that powered the Lady Bulldogs in this season which helped them ink their names in UAAP history.

Edited by Irene Mae Castillo