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Bulldogs overwhelm skidding Maroons in Spikers’ Turf semis

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Living off their foes’ massive error tally, the National University (NU) Bulldogs made all the right plays in the crucial moments of the match and took care of the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 26-24, 25-19, 26-24 in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference at the Filoil Flying V Arena.

The Maroons’ offense matched NU’s production but the boys from Diliman coughed up a whooping 32 errors to NU’s 23. Their errors could be attributed to the Bulldogs’ unmatched height and blocking which forced the UP attackers to overcompensate. This was acknowledged by NU Head Coach Dante Alinsunurin.

“Ang naging diperensya talaga sa game eh ‘yung errors ng kalaban. Marami talaga, tapos dumarating pa sa mga crucial na point ng mga set. Kasama na siguro ‘dun ‘yung tangkad namin kaya lalong nahirapan ‘yung kalaban,” said Alinsunurin whose team notched six block points to UP’s three.

In the first set, neither team pulled away by more than two points, but the Bulldogs took the set in a deuce thanks to UP errors. The Maroons then retaliated in the following set and built a three-point lead, 13-10 with UP revitalizing their service reception. However, NU quickly recovered and, with Kim Malabunga at the service area, tied the frame at 13 then took the lead at the second technical timeout, 16-15. NU team captain, Vince Mangulabnan finished the set with a flurry from the service line with the set tied at 17. NU allowed UP just two points as the Maroons failed to counter any of NU’s advances due to lack of ball control. Bryan Bagunas scored NU’s final two points off a kill followed by an ace, taking his team to the third canto with a 2-0 lead.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Bulldogs overwhelm skidding Maroons in Spikers' Turf semis

The third frame had much of the same back-and-forth that the initial set had except UP found themselves in a commanding position as they led 22-20 courtesy of NU’s errors. Following a timeout, the Bulldogs shrugged off the UP lead and got first crack at set point, 24-23, but UP kept themselves in the game after a Wendel Miguel attack found its mark. From there, NU capped the match with blocks from Malabunga and Francis Saura.

NU’s open hitters, Bugunas and Madzlan Gampong both pitched in 12 points while Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura went for seven and five points respectively.

UP open hitters Wendel Miguel and Alfred Valbuena led the Maroons losing cause with 16 and 14 markers respectively while middle blocker, Evan Raymundo went for six points but had no block points for the first time in the tournament.

NU now has a 4-0 record after carrying over a perfect slate from the first round while the Maroons drop to a 1-3 after their second consecutive loss.

The Maroons will face the EAC Generals on Monday, August 24 while the NU Bulldogs have the Benilde Blazers on Wednesday, August 19.

The Scores:

NU (3) – Gampong 12, Bagunas 12, Saura 7, Natividad 6, Malabunga 5, Mangulabnan 2, Ismail 1, Marcos (L)

UP (0) – Miguel 16, Valbuena 14, Raymundo 6, Millete 4, San Pascual 2, Acuna 2, Madrigalejos 0, Baldelovar 0, San Pedro 0, Luna (L), Nasol (L)

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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