An undermanned National University survived the upset-seeking University of the East in a thrilling 22-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-22, 15-6 match in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the Philsports Arena on Sunday, Mar. 12.
After Kenneth Culabat lifted the Red Warriors in the close first and second sets, both of which ended at 25-22, the Bulldogs woke up in the third and rediscovered their form to stay alive, winning 25-14.
But UE looked primed 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, winning 25-22.
It was all Bulldogs in the fifth as Fortuna and Mukaba continued their hot streak while Nico Almendras and Joshua Retamar also chipped in to evade the upset.
“I’m extremely thankful that even though we were down by two sets, we still managed to win. Credit also goes to my players who, despite encountering some issues with their performance on the court, were able to bounce back,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, whose team committed a whopping 38 errors.
The Bulldogs overcame 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 in their last game against the University of the Philippines, which also went to five sets.
Fortuna erupted for 25 points while Mukaba produced 18 points, nine of which came from blocking. 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 their 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.