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UAAP 85 MVB: Malinis, NU avert UP’s upset axe in five-set nailbiter

National University extended its immaculate run to four matches, taking down University of the Philippines in a five-set thriller, 25-16, 20-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12, in the UAAP Season 85 Men’s Volleyball tournament, Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

This is the Bulldogs’ 22nd consecutive win since Season 81 while keeping their victims winless at four.

Down 9-10, NU turned to defense to pull within a point of the win. Ken Malinis eventually ended the match with a clean cross-court kill after two straight errors from his squad.

“Well, panalo kami, syempre, pero credit to the UP team. Sobrang nag-struggle kami kanina, kahit sa mga sets na nanalo kami talagang tagilid pa rin kami,” Bulldogs head coach Dante Alinsunurin said.

“Sabi ko nga mahaba ‘tong liga, kailangan naming makita yung ganitong sitwasyon,” he added.

Malinis took charge for NU with 24 points, with 21 of them coming from attacks. Nico Almendras added 21 markers to go with nine digs and 10 excellent receptions.

The Bulldogs leaned on its transition to take a huge lead in the first set that was too much for the Fighting Maroons to overcome.

The second set was a different story, as UP used its own defense to fuel its offense. Jaivee Malabanan provided the spark off the bench, while captain Louis Gamban ended the set with a kill through the three-man NU wall.

The third and fourth sets saw both teams juggle for the lead. Eventually, NU and UP pulled through in the respective sets with heady plays, especially in out-of-system instances.

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Angelo Lagando exploded for 28 markers on 24 spikes, three blocks, and a service ace. Gamban added 12 points, while Malabanan had eight.

NU will take on the dangerous University of the East on Sunday at 10:00 AM. Meanwhile, UP will try to snap the skid against University of Santo Tomas the day before at 4:00 PM.

Both matches will be at the same Pasig venue.

Grew to appreciate various sports from tennis to judo. True-maroon kiddo since the new millennium. Fanboy. Singer. Occasional sports writer.

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