Undermanned National University survived the upset-seeking University of the East in a thriller, 22-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 15-6, in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the Philsports Arena on Sunday.
After Kenneth Culabat lifted the Red Warriors in the close first and second sets, both ending at 25-22, the Bulldogs woke up in the third and rediscovered their form in the third to stay alive, 25-14.
But UE looked prime to complete the upset in the fourth period, going ahead 18-15 before MJ Fortuna and Obed Mukaba took charge for NU to force a decider, 25-22.
It was all Bulldogs in the fifth as Fortuna and Mukaba continued their heater while Nico Almendras and Joshua Retamar also chipped in to evade the upset axe.
“Sobrang thankful ako kahit na down kami by two sets nakuha pa rin namin yung panalo. Credit din sa players ko na kahit medyo may konting problema kami sa ginagawa namin sa loob ng court nakabalik pa rin kami,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, whose team committed a whopping 38 errors.
The Bulldogs bucked the absence of Ken Malinis due to personal reasons. Nico Almendras also missed the first set after being handed a yellow and red card at the start of the match for his unsportsmanlike conduct last game against University of the Philippines which dragged them to five sets.
Fortuna erupted for 25 points while Mukaba produced 18 points, nine coming off the blocking department.
Almendras, despite only playing in four frames, still delivered 17 points while Retamar made 21 excellent sets along with eight points.
The win pushed NU to 5-0 and stretched its UAAP winning streak to 23 games dating back to Season 81, while the Red Warriors slid to 2-3.
Lloyd Josafat and Culabat top-scored in the losing cause with 15 and 14 points, respectively.
UE looks to end its two-game slump on Wednesday against Far Eastern University, while NU battles the Tamaraws as well on Saturday.