The National University Bulldogs started their Season 77 campaign with a straight-set victory over the Adamson University Falcons, 25-23, 25-21, 25-12 to open things up in the Men’s Division tournament of the UAAP held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Falcons started the game on a tear, leading 10-3 early. Rookie Jerome Sarmiento scored four quick points during the opening stretch to establish an early lead for the Falcons. Off an early timeout, the Bulldogs responded with their own run capped by a running hit by the graduating Peter Torres to tie things up at 13. The 2-time defending champions tasted their first lead of the set at 21-20 that eventually propelled the Bulldogs in closing out a tight set up by two, 25-23.
An adjusted NU squad showed up in the second set as their combination plays were effective, and early net defense anchored by Torres helped the Bulldogs erect a quick 8-1 lead. But just like the first set, the trailing squad would rally back as Adamson managed to tie the set at 15. NU forced Adamson into multiple errors with their defense to close out the second set with a 10-6 blast.
A confident Bulldog team started the third set with consecutive quick and drop shots to build a 10-2 cushion. An ace by Vince Mangulabnan helped NU build a comfortable 17-7 lead en route to finishing the game up by 13 for their first win.
NU blocked more shots, 10-6 and was plus five in the ace category, 6-1. The Bulldogs also committed less errors, 17-23.
Captain and Season 76 finals Most Valuable Player Rueben Inaudito paced NU with 14 points, nine coming from attacks and five from blocks. Ismael Fauzi scored 13 markers while leading the spiking department with 11 successful hits. In addition, Torres chipped in eight. Adamson’s Pletado and Sarmiento added eight apiece for last year’s fourth placed team.