by Kristel Satumbaga
National University bucked an opening set defeat to beat Far Eastern University, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19, and complete a two-game sweep of the UAAP men’s volleyball championship yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Up against a team with the most number of titles in the league – at 25 – the Bulldogs, led by MVP winner Bryan Bagunas, had their offensive firepower on full display to win their fourth title in six years confirming their status as newest power in the men’s side.
Bagunas exploded for a career-high 35 points capped by a thunderous crosscourt spike that sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
For the graduating outside hitter, his performance was a fitting finale to a colorful collegiate career.
While he was delighted with Bagunas’ sterling show, NU coach Dante Alinsunurin also credited the entire team for their title win, saying: “Masaya ako na umangat yung laro nila hanggang dulo. Nagbunga din yung mga ensayo namin before ng season,” said Alinsunurin, whose team trained in Japan in the preaseason.
NU was more intense in the fourth frame, where it pulled away from a 20-19 lead with six straight points for the win as Bagunas shattered FEU’s defense time and again.
Kim Malabunga chipped in nine points while Rookie of the Year Angelo Almendras added seven points.
Richard Solis paced FEU with 18 points.
Bagunas also took Best Outside Hitter and Best Server awards while other winners were FEU’s Jude Garcia (2nd Best Outside Hitter) and John Paul Bugaoan (1st Best Middle Blocker), Ateneo’s Chumason Njigha (2nd Best Middle Blocker), Lawrence Magadia (Best Setter) and Manuel Sumaguid III (Best Libero), and NU’s James Natividad (Best Opposite Hitter).