UAAP volleyball: Bella Belen shrugs off MVP chants, focus is on leading NU to title

NU’s Bella Belen celebrates a point vs La Salle. –UAAP MEDIA

MANILA, Philippines — Bella Belen’s determination to deliver National University’s first UAAP women’s volleyball title since 1957 led to her outstanding performance in her rookie year.

Belen, an MVP and rookie of the year candidate, delivered 15 points as the Lady Bulldogs dominated the Lady Spikers, 25-20, 25-12, 25-21, in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball Finals on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“I just play my game. Our goal is to win the championship this season. If ever we received individual awards, it’s just a bonus for us, an extra trophy for our hard work,” said Belen in Filipino after pushing the Lady Bulldogs a win closer to a perfect season.

The 19-year-old received MVP chants from the NU fans in the Finals opener, but she remained laser-sharp focused on completing her goal.

“I heard their cheers. But I stayed focused in the game,” said Belen, who built a strong case for the MVP and top rookie awards in the elimination round.

The former UAAP girls’ MVP was in the Top 10 in five of the seven skills categories. Her teammates were also outstanding with Lams Lamina leading the best setter race, Alyssa Solomon as the best attacker, and libero Jen Nierva as the best receiver after 14 games.

NU coach Karl Dimaculangan, who was also an MVP and completed a perfect season as a player of University of Santo Tomas, said Belen and her teammates’ outstanding season is a result of their work ethic.

“All of them have a winning attitude in training. I really appreciate their work ethic. For Bella, she just needs to keep up the good work and enjoy her game,” Dimaculangan said.

Belen is happy that she helped NU reach this far with her high school teammates Lamina, Solomon, and Sheena Toring.

“I’m happy because I’m still with my high school teammates in aiming to make history for NU,” she said.

But the job is not yet done as Belen and the Lady Bulldogs try to clinch the Season 84 crown in Game 2 on Tuesday.

“We have to work again in training because there were moments in Game One that we slowed down and gave up free points,” she said.

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