The National University Bulldogs returned their roots and stopped the Far Eastern University Tamaraws in four sets, 25-21, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, to send their 2018 Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference semifinals series to a winner-take-all Game Three, Sunday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Outside hitter Bryan Bagunas was unstoppable in his second straight match back from a beach volley tournament stint, finishing with a huge 30-point outing, 27 of which came from booming attacks. The senior NU standout also added two blocks, an ace, along with 15 excellent receptions to lord the stat sheets. Middle hitters Kim Malabunga and team captain Francis Saura were also aggressive at the net to end with 15 and 13 markers, respectively.
For coach Dong Dela Cruz – who has been sitting in for head coach Dante Alinsunurin for the past two matches – believed that it was the team’s complacency that cost them the opening game. “Masyado nilang inisip na kaya namin yung kalaban,” he admitted. “Ngayon mas ginusto naming manalo.”
The Banko Perlas head coach added, “Maganda yung blocking namin at service reception ngayon. Sana sa Game Three gumana ulit.”
Dominating the scoring skills, the composure of the Bulldogs prevailed in the end, even after that third-set loss. In that frame, the Tamaraws took advantage of their opponent’s faulty connections to pull away early, and never looked back. JP Bugaoan and RJ Paler poured in majority of their respective 13 and 16 points to pocket the third.
In the fourth set, NU’s determination was evident, as they drilled in their spikes with much power, punctuated with another Saura kill to end the match.
The sudden death match between National U and FEU is scheduled on Wednesday. The winner will face the University of Santo Tomas Tiger Spikers in the Finals, while the losing squad takes on the Adamson University Soaring Falcons in the third-place series.
NU 3 – Bagunas 30, Malabunga 15, Saura 13, Almedras 9, Gampong 6, Natividad 3, Dayandante 1, Ancheta 0, Marcos L, Sumagui L.
FEU 1 – Paler 16, Bugaoan 13, De Asis 9, Quiel 7, Bautista 7, Calado 5, Silang 1, Suarez 1, Salabsab 0, Laganina 0, Barrica L, Lorenzo L.