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Coach attributes success of NU Lady Bulldogs to former mentors

MANILA, Philippines — National University coach Norman Miguel attributed the rise of their women’s volleyball program to all the coaches who worked for the team and developed the players from high school to college. Miguel, who returned to NU this preseason after three years, may have won his first title with the team but the credit goes to the former coaches of the program from his coaching staff including the UAAP Season 84 champion head tactician-turned-deputy Karl Dimaculangan to ex-Lady Bullpups mentor Babes Castillo.

“Honestly, since the first time I went to NU [in 2019], I really applaud their volleyball program from the recruitment, the quality of players, who were trained by coach Babes and other coaches. I always admire them,” said Miguel in Filipino. “Now that I am part of this championship, I am so happy and proud. But I won’t take all the credit because a lot of coaches taught these players and I applaud their efforts to lift the volleyball program,” he added.

Despite getting pushed to the limit by University of Santo Tomas in the Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship Finals, Miguel knew that the Lady Bulldogs, led by Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon, would flaunt their maturity and composure to pull off a 25-17, 15-25, 25-20, 25-20 win in Game 2 on Saturday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

“It’s about the level of character of our players. They have been champions since high school and also experienced a championship title in college. I think [playing their] hearts out made them achieve this kind of success,” the returning NU coach said.

The Lady Bulldogs swept all of their 10 games in the second SSL season, extending their winning streak to 18 games in the preseason tournament. But their main goal is to claim the UAAP crown as the last time they ruled SSL, they lost to La Salle in the Season 85 Finals.

“As much as we want to feel we’re 100 percent ready, we don’t want to because we want to always have a reason to work harder and push each other. We always think that there is still a void to fill in for us to regain the title,” Miguel said.

NU, armed with the Philippine women’s volleyball team experience and another SSL championship, seeks to reclaim the crown with the core of Belen, Solomon, Vange Alinsug, Lams Lamina, and Sheena Toring as well as rookies Kaye Bombita and Arah Panique.

Belen, a third-year Lady Bulldogs, vows to take it one step at a time in their title-redemption bid.