by Kristel Satumbaga
Games Wednesday (Mall of Asia Arena)
11:30 a.m. – Presentation of Men’s Individual Awards
12 noon – NU vs FEU (men’s finals)
3:30 p.m. – Presentation of Women’s Individual Awards
4 p.m. – UST vs Ateneo (women’s finals)
National University inched closer to retaining its UAAP men’s volleyball crown after turning back Far Eastern University, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum yesterday in Quezon City.
The Bulldogs bucked a slow start against the aggressive Tamaraws before rediscovering their offensive rhythm in the next three sets to take Game 1 of their best-of-three championship series.
Bryan Bagunas fueled NU’s assault by firing 18 points including 16 at the attack line while James Natividad scored when it mattered most to finish with 16 points on 15 kills and an ace.
The Bulldogs had to dig deeper into their bag of tricks before outlasting the Tamaraws in the second and third frames.
But in the fourth, the Bulldogs raced to an early 7-2 lead and that was enough to disarm the Tamaraws.
NU coach Dante Alinsunurin admitted they were caught by surprise in the opening set.
But their vast wealth of experience – being in the finals for seventh straight year now – enabled them to thwart the Tamaraws challenge.
“Yung experience namin yung nagdala sa amin lalo na sa kung paano mag-adjust after nung first set,” said Alinsunurin, adding that his stalwarts struggled to stay in the game plan against FEU’s solid attacks led by Richard Solis and John Paul Bugaoan.