UAAP Season 85 introduced us to Angel Canino, and she is living proof that women's volleyball is getting more and more competitive than ever. This De La Salle Lady Spiker has followed in the footsteps of the NU Lady Bulldogs' Bella Belen as Rookie-MVP for a reason, or multiple reasons.
Here are some of her best moments this year.
Rookie vs Royalty: Angel Canino introduces herself to UST
It was the opening week of UAAP Season 85 and fans were immediately treated to a five-set seesaw showdown between La Salle and the UST Golden Tigresses.
It became apparent that there would be plenty of contenders this season as the young Canino challenged Eya Laure for the scoring crown. The La Salle rook made 18 points from 16 attacks along with 11 excellent receptions, fighting toe-to-toe with the veteran Laure, who had 19 points from 17 attacks plus 8 excellent digs.
This was a ridiculously entertaining series, which saw Laure and the Golden Tigresses take revenge in Round 2, dealing the Lady Spikers their first-ever loss of the season.
Canino and La Salle, however, had the last laugh as they won the Final Four showdown and eventually, the Season 85 crown.
What bum shoulder? Angel delivers career-high vs Adamson
There's an adage as old as time. It doesn't matter how many times you fall, it's how many times you get back up. That was the question for everyone after La Salle tasted its first loss of Season 85.
With a few words from coach Ramil de Jesus, the Lady Spikers came back hard.
Canino withstood a reported bum shoulder to notch a career-high of 28 points from 22 attacks, 5 blocks, and an ace. She also had 6 excellent digs and 19 whopping excellent receptions.
This effort, along with eventual back-to-back Best Middle Blocker Thea Gagate's 22 points and Best Outside Spiker Jolina dela Cruz' 18 points were enough to overcome a 2-1 set disadvantage against the Adamson Lady Falcons.
La Salle eventually pulled out the victory in a five-set showdown and secured the twice-to-beat advantage going to the Final Four. And it was enough, it seemed, to show Canino had the edge against Trisha Tubu for the Rookie of the Year title.
Angel goes night-night
Photographer Joaqui Flores captured this moment that showed Angel could indeed be a bit mischievous, taking cue from the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry.
She may be saying "night-night" but this moment surely haunted the Ateneo Blue Eagles' dreams.
Just check how eager Canino was in taking on the Blue Eagles and how giddy she was with every point.
Bella serves the stare, but Angel gets Game 1
Game 1 of the Finals between La Salle and NU served so many aces and looks, it had us reeling. It was perfectly encapsulated by the staredowns from NU's Bella Belen and another from La Salle's Angel Canino.
Check out this particular moment when La Salle was down a set. Canino gets a spike past the blockers but it was dug at the back. No set needed as the La Salle rookie just jumped once again for the attack. No one was able to catch it.
The face, the flick, the fierceness in the replay were a sight to behold.
She racked up 21 points from 19 attacks and 2 aces, along with 14 excellent receptions to take Game 1 for La Salle.
Angel explained, the swag ought to be expected, "It's part of the game naman."
The Rookie-MVP hug
We've shared it multiple times but it's still incredibly heartwarming to watch the hug between two Rookie-MVPs in Belen and Canino after La Salle won Game 2 and the UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball championship.
And Canino made sure to pay her respect to Belen.
"Love you 'te!" This year's Rookie-MVP told Belen, her predecessor.
It's all good as the two shared hugs, tears, and a lot of wacky poses.
"Ang ganda mo pa rin 'te kahit umiiyak ka!" The La Salle star added.
Question is, can Canino sustain her stellar run heading to her sophomore year?
Looking forward to more Angel in our lives.