Losing their first meeting via a fifth set heartbreak, the UST Tiger Spikers avenged their loss with a quick 25-19, 29-27, 25-23 win over the defending champions, the NU Bulldogs at the FilOil Arena.
UST started on a flurry of hits anchored by Mark Alfafara as they had more attacks during the opening frame against NU, 15-10. NU’s mistimed hits piled up the errors that halted their possible comeback late in the set.
In the second set, NU quickly doubled the score entering the first technical timeout at 8-4. The defense of the Bulldogs clamped down on the UST spikers as they denied backcourt attacks that were effective during the opening set. Looking to rally, UST went on a 9-4 spurt in the middle of the set with multiple quick hits and combination plays that worked wonders.
A closely contested second set ended in favor of the Tiger Spikers as they managed to hold on and score two consecutive hits late. Faulty services for NU in the second canto did not help the Bulldogs at the tail end.
Looking to finish the game early, the Tigers rushed to a quick lead early and despite not being able to pull away, the small margin was sufficient enough to help them sweep the Bulldogs. UST gave NU its first straight-set loss since the first round game against Ateneo back in Season 76.
The game was on par and even in terms of blocking, serving, and errors made as there was no notable disparity in the numbers. However, it was UST’s spikes that overpowered the defending champs, 46-36.
Season MVP frontrunner Alfafara led all scorers with 18 points, all coming from spikes.
With this huge win, UST moves up with now a 6-2 record, tied with NU and Ateneo at the second spot. Adamson is one game ahead of the three teams at 7-2 making the Final Four seeding interesting in the men’s volleyball tournament.
UST’s next assignment will be FEU, 8am on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena. On the other hand, NU will face Ateneo on Jan. 31 at 10am.
UST- Alfafara 18, Bautista 8, Sarabia 7, Rico 5, Balse 4, Tajanlangit 4, Guzman, 4, Pangan(L) 0
NU- Torres 8, Inaudito 8, Tolentino 8, Ismail 5, Baysac 5, Panglinawan 4, Mangulabnan 3, Dizon(L) 0