The National University Bulldogs needed to dig dip after falling two sets to one against the De La Salle University Green Spikers.
The Blue and Gold were able to solve their reception woes in the extra innings as they survived a five-set thriller, 25-19, 25-27, 18-25, 25-21, 15-12, to end their elimination round campaign in solo third Wednesday morning at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The Bulldogs pretty much had control of the match throughout the match. If not for their errors, the match would have ended earlier
With Vince Mangulabnan orchestrating their offense, NU’s vast array of attacks were on full display in the first set, resulting in an easy win. NU’s reception waivered in the second set, opening the door for a La Salle takeover. Raymark Woo scored enough on rallies to compound NU’s errors and take the second set in a squeeker. The Bulldogs’ ball control took a deeper dive in the third set, resulting in crippling errors that put NU behind the eight ball.
“Yung service receive namin bumaba yung pursiyento. Pag bumaba yun, lahat puwedeng mangyari,” Bulldog head coach Dante Alinsunurin shared. “Yung opensa namin bababa tapos lahat magdadamay damay na.”
Adjusting his sets, Mangulabnan directed more of NU’s attacks towards the near side. NU’s sets permitting, the Bulldogs crushed the Green Spikers with their powerful combination plays, building a steady five-point wall and never looking back. Erasing an early three-point lead in the deciding fifth set, NU cruised to the close win.
“Sabi ko nga malaking bagay itong larong ito para sa experience namin,” a delighted Alinsunurin reflected. “Nanalo pa rin kami pero laking bagay yung pinakita nilang tiyaga sa court kahit nagkakaproblema kami. Hindi nila binitawan.”
Mangulabanan tossed 50 excellent sets which resulted in five Bulldogs tallying double-figure point totals. Rookie James Natividad led the way with 20 points, Opposite hitter Madz Gampong added 18, while Francis Saura and Reuben Baysac had 15 markers apiece. Rookie libero Ricky Marcos went for a tournament-high 49 excellent receptions.
Raymark Woo towed the Green Spikers with 22 markers while Arjay Onia and Cris Dumago had 13 and 11 points, respectively.
With the win, the Bulldogs finished the elimination round with a 10-4 record, securing the third seed with a possibility of moving up to the second spot if Adamson loses (9-3) losses their last two matches.
“10-4 kami pero kelangan pa namin hintayin yung resulta ng mga laro ng Adamson. Basta solo third kami and may chance pa mag-second kung matalo yung Adamson,” he said about NU’s current standing at third. “Kahit anong mangyari, alam namin na kaya namin sila kasi dalawang beses na namin silang natalo.”
La Salle fell out of the Final Four race for the third straight season. They finish Season 78 on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre against the winless University of the East Red Spikers.
NU (3) – Natividad 20, Gampong 18, Saura 15, Baysac 12, Mangulabnan 4, Ancheta 0, Samagui 0, Bagunas 0, Marcos (L).
DLSU (2) – Woo 22, Onia 13, Dumago 11, Frey 5, Calasin 4, Jose 3, Dimayuga 1, Asia R. 0, Asia G. 0, Bacon 0, Movido (L).
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