National University reigned supreme in the 2022 V-League Men’s Collegiate Challenge after topping University of Santo Tomas in straight sets, 25-23, 25-23, 25-21, in do-or-die Game Three at the Paco Arena on Friday.
The Tiger Spikers clawed their way back from 10 points down in the third set, 6-16. The efforts of Josh Ybañez, Gboy De Vega, Edlyn Colinares, and Charles Magpayo got them within three, 20-23.
However, Kennry Malinis put the Bulldogs at championship point. Nico Almendras’ service then went straight to the net, giving UST a chance at redemption.
However, Malinis broke free in the combination play to give the Bulldogs their second consecutive crown in a tournament organized by Sports Vision, conquering the 2022 Spikers Turf last October.
“Itong do-or-die namin, nakita ko talaga na gusto ng bata na mag-champion talaga. Hindi tulad nung Game Two, medyo nag-relax kami. Nakampante kami sa ginagawa namin,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin.
“Sobrang laking tulong ito. First day pa lang ng tournament sobrang thankful na ako sa Sports Vision na ginagawa nila ito, na lahat gagawin nila para ‘yung men’s division ay umangat,” added the veteran bench tactician.
Trailing by two late in the second frame, back-to-back errors by the Tiger Spikers helped NU knot the tally at 22. Then Obed Mukaba put them on top with a drop ball.
De Vega answered back for UST to tie the game at 23, before Mukaba came up big with back-to-back blocks to send Bulldogs to a 2-0 set lead.
Mukaba came through with 14 points spread through eight attacks, five blocks, and a service ace. Meanwhile, Almendras and Malinis punched in 12 points apiece, with the former adding 21 excellent receptions and six digs.
Ybañez led the Tiger Spikers with 15 points and 12 receptions. De Vega had 14 points and 18 receptions.