What was a heated match-up in last year’s Finals became a romp in the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Volleyball tournament, as the National University Bulldogs breezed past arch-rivals Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles, 25-19, 25-23, 25-16, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
National U were hot from the first serve, taking advantage of Ateneo miscues en route to an insurmountable 18-12 first-set gap. The second set had the tightest sequences of the match, as the Bulldogs surrendered a 22-20 lead for a tie, 23-all. National U leading scorer Bryan Bagunas pounded an attack past two blockers to give his team the lead, and set up James Natividad’s set-clinching solo block.
From a 9-all draw, the final set then swung to NU’s favor thanks to a 10-2 run that sealed the win.
After losing their season opener against FEU, the Bulldogs closed the first round on a six-game winning streak. Head coach Dante Alinsunurin was still critical of NU’s 31 errors – 11 more than Ateneo – but expressed satisfaction in their overall play.
“Problema namin, nagbigay kami ng unforced errors kaya nakakadikit sa amin ‘yung kalaban. Kailangan naka-focus lagi,” he said.
“Importante sa amin every game kasi kailangan namin ma-gauge kung nasaan na ‘yung team namin. Minsan may game kami na marami talagang error, pero okay na din na nakikita na namin ngayon ‘yun,” the national team head coach added.
The Bulldogs rippes Ateneo on the attack, tallying 47-22 disparity to go with a 6-2 lead in blocks.
The graduating Bagunas finished with 20 points off an immaculate 18-for-27 attacking clip. Rookie Nico Almendras managed 11 markers.
No Blue Eagle finished in double-digits, as Tony Koyfman had just seven points to lead his team. Ateneo finish the first round with a 4-3 slate.
NU (3) – Bagunas 20, Almendras 11, Natividad 9, Gampong 4, Malabunga 4, Saura 4, Mondero 2, Retamar 1, Ancheta 0, Marcos (L)
ADMU (0) – Koyfman 7, Medalla 6, Njigha 6, Rivera 6, Llenos 2, Magadia 1, Aguilar 0, Cuerva 0, Morado 0, Sumanguid (L)
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