Hail to the Kings, Queens of UAAP

John Bryan Ulanday - The Philippine Star
Hail to the Kings, Queens of UAAP
Season MVP Bella Belen (center) and the Lady Bulldogs regain the UAAP throne.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Uncaged. Unchained. Unleashed.

Entering the final stage of the UAAP wilderness together for the first time wasn’t the mere goal for the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs of the National University. Discontented and all, they ran roughshod on a twain of Tigers to rule the jungle altogether and crown themselves as twin champions for also the first time ever.

In front of 22,515 witnesses, the Bulldogs and the Lady Bulldogs ascended to the throne with 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-15 and 25-23, 23-25, 27-25, 25-16 victories, respectively, in Game 2 to complete convincing series sweeps in the UAAP Season 86 men’s and women’s volleyball tournaments yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Lady Bulldogs capped a fitting redemption for their second title in three years and fourth overall as the Bulldogs cemented their stature as the best men’s team in the country with a sweet four-peat as part of their six overall cups.

They’re the first UAAP volleyball double champions since Ateneo did it in Season 77. The Bulldogs were also the first four-peat titlist since Santo Tomas in Season 73 while the Lady Bulldogs redeemed themselves after a runner-up finish last year.

This season, together they’re simply the first – and the only.

Newly-crowned Season MVP and First Best Outside Spiker Bella Belen fired 19 points to finish what her lethal partner and Finals MVP Alyssa Solomon (Best Opposite Spiker) started with 27 points on 24 hits, four blocks and three aces.

“Hindi madali ‘yung journey. Napakahirap. Lahat ng kalaban namin pinaghandaan itong UAAP. Pinagdaanan namin ‘yung mga talo pero since buo ‘yung kagustuhan namin na ma-redeem ‘yung title, talagang pinag-trabahuhan namin,” said coach Norman Miguel, a winner in his UAAP return.

The Lady Bulldogs, on the heels of an easy 25-23, 25-20, 25-20 win in Game 1, met strong resistance from the Golden Tigresses inspired by the return of injured ace and Rookie of the Year Angeline Poyos only to brave on, highlighted by a comeback from a 21-23 deficit in the crucial third set.

For the Bulldogs, graduating team captain Joshua Retamar (26 sets, three points, nine digs) brought them home for a beautiful swan song to cap an illustrious collegiate career laced by back-to-back Best Setter plums and Finals MVP honors.

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