Focused and resilient, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws handled the National University Bulldogs in four sets 25-19, 22-25, 26-24, 25-20 to end the first round of the UAAP Men’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Both teams traded blows early in the first set before NU’s passing collapsed. After back-to-back Madz Gampong attack errors, FEU surged to a 17-12 lead forcing an NU timeout. But the break in action only seemed to dampen NU’s play further as FEU relentlessly protected the lead and took the frame.
Another steady exchange of points stalled the second set to numerous ties. At a 19-all draw, the Bulldogs caught breaks at the net thanks to Gampong’s alert plays. Down 19-22, FEU surrendered two costly service errors, setting up NU’s set-clinching combination play.
The following sets showed FEU’s defensive mastery of NU. The Tamaraws always had multiple blockers in front of NU’s wingers and also had good coverage. FEU led 24-22, in the third set before a Ronchete Villegas service error and a Reuben Baysac lucky tip play forced a deuce. NU, however, squandered their comeback after an Ancheta service error then a Vince Mangulabnan catch-ball violation.
Deflated, the Bulldogs surrendered the fourh set as they could not control FEU’s serves and their own errors.
“Sobrang hirap talunin ng NU. Siguro nadaan na lang namin sa samahan namin at sa pagkapit,” said FEU head coach Rey Diaz.
Rookie JP Bugaoan and graduating opposite hitter Jeric Gacutan had 12 points apiece while rookie Jude Garcia amassed 11 to lead FEU’s balanced attack.
Opposite hitter Madz Gampong tallied a game-high 15 points for the Bulldogs while open hitters James Natividad and Bryan Bagunas had 12 points apiece. The Bulldogs tallied 44 errors to FEU’s 30.
With their third straight win, FEU went to 5-2 to end the first round good for third place. NU is tied for fourth with the University of the Philippines Maroons with a 4-3 slate.
FEU (3) – Bugaoan 12, Gacutan 12, Garcia 11, Dolor 9, Villegas 4, Paler 3, Barrica 2, Solis 1, Silang 0, Suarez 0, Marmeto R. (L), Marmeto (L)
NU (1) – Gampong 15, Natividad 12, Malabunga 13, Bagunas 12, Baysac 4, Saura 1, Mangulabnan 0, Ancheta 0, Ogoc 0, Dayandante 0, Marcos (L)