The NU Lady Bulldogs faced their toughest test of the tournament in the Finals of the 2023 Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship. A young yet valiant UST Golden Tigresses squad gave them all they could handle, winning a set in both Finals matches against the Lady Bulldogs, a team that had won all their previous matches in straight sets.
But when her team needed her the most, a familiar face stepped up for NU and made sure that the Shakey’s Super League was going to be theirs once again.
With UST threatening to force a deciding fifth set in Game 2 of the Finals, former UAAP Rookie-MVP Bella Belen took over for the NU Lady Bulldogs. Belen scored crucial points to complete a 25-17, 15-25, 25-20, 25-20 Game 2 victory for NU, as the Lady Bulldogs capped off another perfect title run and successfully defended their Shakey’s Super League Championship.
Belen, who was lated named as the 1st Best Outside Hitter of the tournament, rattled off five straight points toward the end of Set 4 to overturn a 13-16 deficit and finished with a team-high 17 points, with all of them coming on attacks. Belen was later named as the First Best Outside Hitter of the tournament after previously being named as the 2nd Best Outside Hitter in the tournament last season.
But more importantly, Belen’s heroics gave the Lady Bulldogs their second straight Shakey’s Super League championship, allowing NU to defend the title that they won last year against the DLSU Lady Spikers. Vange Alinsug added 15 points for the Lady Bulldogs, while Alyssa Solomon, who was adjudged as the Most Valuable Player and Best Opposite Spiker of the tournament, chipped in with 14 points. Aside from receiving gold medals and a brand new trophy designed by National Artist Sandro Castrillo, the Lady Bulldogs also received a P15,000 gift certificate from Shakey’s, and stuffed Shakey’s volleyballs.
Meanwhile, UST, who managed to hand NU their only set losses of the tournament, was led by Xyza Gula, who ended up with a game-high 18 points, while Angeline Poyos, who was named as the tournament’s 2nd Best Outside Hitter, added 11 points, while Regina Jurado also contributing 10 points for the Golden Tigresses. The España-based squad continued to show improvement, claiming the silver medal after finishing third in the 2023 Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals last August.
Earlier in the day, the FEU Lady Tamaraws outlasted the Adamson Lady Falcons in another five-set classic to claim the bronze and finish at the podium in the 2023 Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship.
Joining Solomon, Belen, and Poyos among the Shakey’s Super League Super Team are Lady Bulldog Camilla Lamina, who was named as the tournament’s Best Setter, NU team captain Erin Pangilinan, who was adjudged as the 1st Best Middle Blocker, Adamson’s Lorene Toring, who was awarded as the 2nd Best Middle Blocker, and UST team captain Bernadett Pepito, who earned another Best Libero recognition.
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