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Bulldogs stop rampaging Mojica, Generals to claim Game One



Needing contributions from everyone on the team, the National University Bulldogs dodged the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals’ late surge, escaping the defending NCAA champs in five sets 25-23, 26-28, 25-18, 26-28, 15-11 in Game One of their Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conferece semifinals series at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Reigining NCAA MVP Howard Mojica erupted for his second consecutive 30-point game, dishing out a game-high 35 points at the expense of NU’s long-limbed blockers. His teammate, opposite hitter Hariel Doguna contributed 17 markers but NU’s young cast weathered Bagyong Mojica with a balanced assault.

Third-year open hitter, Fauzi Imsail led NU with 23 points, most coming in NU’s won sets. Rookie, Madzlan Gampong followed with 15 points, Francis Saura added 13 points with four blocks, while sopuomores Bryan Bagunas and Kim Malabunga each pitched in 12 points.

NU was on their way to ending the match in the fourth set, leading 24-22. They then surrendered errors – on a serve from Kim Dayandante whice Kim Malabunga followed with an attack error – to drag the set into a deuce. A few points later, NU again had match point, 26-25, but then coughed up three consecutive errors – a service error from Bagunas, the a net touch and snuffed attack from Malabunga – to drag the match into a fifth set.

Although his team eventually took the deciding set convincingly, NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin could not help but bare his anxiety after the match. “Ang masasabi ko lang, bata pa talaga ang team ko,” exclaimed Alinsunurin.

“Ang sabi ko sa kanila kaya tayo nanalo sa mga laban natin before kasi lamang tayo sa skills. Pero sa experience, malayo pa ang kailangan natin habulin. Kailangan namin mas maging patient pa,” he added.

NU had come-off their first loss of the season, a straight-set drubbing at the handa of the team that defeated them in the Season 77 UAAP Finals, Ateneo Blue Eagles while EAC went into the match having won two consecutive matches to keep their season alive. Mojica’a 35-point explosion was his fourth 30+ point performance in the past five games.

“Inensayo talaga namin ‘yung blocking nitong nakaraan. Nahirapan lang talaga kami noong una kapain ‘yung mga palo niya [Mojica],” said coach Dante, whose team eventually stopped Mojica for three block kills in the fifth set alone. NU tallied 11 total block kills to EAC’s three.

NU setter and team captain Vince Mangulabnan kept his team’s offense humming but, as said by Coach Dante, Mangulabnan has been a bit too preoccupied with the extra duties of being the team’s most experienced player.

“Marami kasing nagagawa si Vince for the team. Hindi lang sa loob ng court saka sa training, leader pa rin siya sa labas ng court pati sa dorm. Kaya hindi maiiwasan na maraming nasa isip ng bata. Pero hopefully makapagconcentrate pa siya these coming games,” Alinsunurin said of the decorated tosser.

NU can claim their seat on the Finals should they win Game Two on Wednesday, September 9. In the other series, Ateneo currently leads NCBA 1-0 with Game Two also happening on Wednesday.

The Scores

NU (3) – Ismail 23, Gampong 15, Saura 13, Bagunas 12, Malabunga 12, Mangulabnan 2, Baysac 0, Dayandante 0, Natividad 0, Ogoc 0, Marcos (L)

EAC (2) – Mojica 35, Doguna 17, Encina 8, Melliza 6, Pagtalunan 1, Arias 0, Gerella 0, Gorospe 0, Mangaring (L)


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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