Playing wastefully throughout the match, the National University Bulldogs still remained perfect in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, staving off the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons, 25-13, 25-20, 23-25, 24-26, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
After blasting the Maroons in the opening frame, the Bulldogs survived a heavy exchange of errors in the second set to come withing a sweep. Holding a 7-1 lead, the Bulldogs suddenly collapsed in the third frame. Giving away chance balls, the Bulldogs opened the door for UP to eventually take a 13-9 lead. NU slowly closed the gap, but the Maroons gained a decisive 24-22 lead thanks to steady hitting from Mark Millete. Open hitter Nicolo Consuelo extended the match for UP, sliding in a cross-court kill.
“‘Yung mga ganoong bagay kasi kasama talaga sa paghahanda namin,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin of his team’s sluggish play towards the end of the match. “Itong conference kasi na ito para sa mga bago naming player para maka-adjust sila sa mga ginagawa namin.”
The fourth frame was another close encounter, with UP gaining a 23-21 lead following consecutive NU errors. UAAP Season 80 Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas cracked three straight attacks over and past UP blockers to give NU a 24-23 lead. The Maroons found an equalizer with a quick hit from Joshua Castillo. But UP had no answer for the next two NU transition attacks that closed the match.
Bagunas finishes with 22 points. Team captain Francis Saura fortified NU’s steady blocking, scoring 16 points and providing four of their 14 blocks. The Bulldogs gave up 37 errors to UP’s 24.
Millete topped the Maroons with 15 markers, while Consuelo added 13.
The Bulldogs (4-0) take on the Far Eastern University Tamaraws (2-2) on Sunday. UP (2-2) face the Perpetual Altas (1-3) on Saturday. Both games are at the same venue.
NU (3) – Bagunas 22, Saura 16, Gampong 13, Malabunga 12, Almendres 9, Natividad 3, Dayandante 0, Retamar 0, Marcos (L), Sumagui (L)
UP (1) – Millete 15, Consuelo 13, Castillo 6, Gohoc 6, San Pascual 4, Baldelovar 1, Enteria 0, San Pedro 0, Nasol (L)