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HomeSportBulldogs champs; Bella beats Poyos in tight MVP race

Bulldogs champs; Bella beats Poyos in tight MVP race

UST Golden Spikers' Josh Ybanez

UST Golden Spikers’ Josh Ybanez. –MARLO CUETO/

The Bulldogs wasted precious little time closing out University of Santo Tomas (UST). “I saw in my players going into this game that they really wanted to win today,” NU coach Dante Alinsunurin said on Wednesday, after a 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-15 Game 2 victory over the TIger Spikers handed the Bulldogs a fourth straight crown.

Before that game, the Lady Bulldogs had their moment of triumph, with Bella Belen notching a second MVP award, becoming just the third player with as many trophies. Belen’s first was a milestone, too. She won it on her rookie season, becoming the first freshman to win the MVP and top rookie awards in the same year.

The story, however, is how close that MVP race was.

UST’s Angge Poyos, who ran away with this season’s Rookie of the Year trophy, ended the race with the most number of statistical points, beating Belen, 4,310 to 4,110. But Belen and the Lady Bulldogs reached their 12-2 (win-loss) record—tied with Santo Tomas—with fewer sets played than Poyos and the Tigresses, 56-50.

As a result, Belen emerged with the larger quotient, 82.200, against Poyos’ 76.964.

The race wasn’t as close in the men’s side, with UST’s Josh Ybañez winning his second straight MVP in runaway fashion.

NU’s Owa Retamar won a more important individual trophy after he was named Finals MVP for the second straight time. Fellow senior Nico Almendras was named 2nd Best Outside Spiker. Retamar, Almendras and libero Mariano Sumagui will exit the Bulldogs’ program as champions.

“I am thankful for the leadership of our seniors,” Alinsunurin said. “We were hearing that it’s hard to get a four-peat and for graduating players, sometimes they don’t get the championship so I am thankful that they worked for it.

“This is such a memorable championship.”

“I am so happy that before Owa and I exit, we did something good in NU … I am so happy that I can say anything else,” Almendras said.

“I am so proud of the team and let me share what I told the team in our meeting: ‘If we become champions today, it will continue on because you get to bring the pride and method of being a champion,’” skipper Retamar, who was also the league’s best setter, said.

“I am happy and excited for the next UAAP,” he added after tossing 26 excellent sets on his way out.

The Bulldogs provided a glimpse of what to expect next season with sophomore hitter Buds Buddin, who missed most of NU’s elimination matches, making his presence felt with 28 points from 22 attacks, five blocks and an ace.

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“I credit my players for working for this from the moment we reached the semis, they focused on and became disciplined every day,” Alinsunurin said.

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