FOR rookie MVP Bella Belen, the once well-oiled machine of the NU Lady Bulldogs lost some steam after a shaky start to the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball tournament.
Belen gave her damning verdict on the team's first-round lapses, capped by an uncharacteristic team performance against La Salle on Wednesday, that left the Lady Bulldogs already with two losses in their first seven games - after a 16-0 sweep last season.
Bella Belen on NU's first-round assessment
"'Yung hunger po namin sa paglalaro, parang medyo nawala po 'eh," Belen said. "Nakikita po sa La Salle na talagang gusto nila makuha 'yung game, point by point, kumpara sa amin."
Falling on the opposite end of a sweep for the first time since Season 81 to FEU, Belen says self-reflection and concrete goal-setting are vital steps needed to propel NU's title-retention bid forward.
"Balik kami sa self namin [para mag-reflect] kung ano talaga 'yung ultimate goal namin this season at maibalik 'yung hunger namin sa paglalaro."
Now keen on ripping the pages of a troubled first chapter, the Lady Bulldogs seek to gain a measure of revenge in their rematch with the Lady Spikers on Saturday.