Reigning champion National University needed four sets to defeat the luckless University of the Philippines, 25-14, 25-18, 23-25, 25-21, and remain unbeaten in the UAAP Season 85 men’s volleyball tournament at the SMART Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, Apr. 1.
The Bulldogs improved to 9-0 and stretched their winning streak to 27 games dating back to Season 81.
The Fighting Maroons, meanwhile, slipped to 0-9, putting them on the brink of elimination.
Angelo Lipata and Louis Gamban pulled off back-to-back points for the Fighting Maroons. The former denied Kennry Malinis before the latter drilled an off-the-block hit, forcing a fourth set.
However, Michaelo Buddin and the Bulldogs’ blocking came alive in the fourth, fending off UP’s rally from 18-24 down, to finish the match in one hour and 56 minutes.
“Sa bi ko balik lang tayo kasi talagang tinrabaho ng UP yung third set talaga, although doon sa third set na yun kami yung nagkulang talaga,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin, also the former head coach of the Philippine Men’s National Volleyball Team.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga players ko bumalik lang kung ano ang ginawa natin nung first at second sets, ituloy lang natin, at kailangan maging agresibo pa tayo sa ginagawa natin,” he continued.
Nico Almendras had a game-high 19 points to go with 13 excellent receptions and five digs, while Malinis backed him up with 17 points, including a match-best six blocks.
Joshua Retamar dished out 15 excellent sets, as Buddin finished with 12 points, while middle blockers Obed Mukaba and Gerard Diao got nine and eight points, respectively.
Gamban made 13 points and 21 excellent receptions for the Fighting Maroons, while Ranz Cajolo and Lipata produced 11 points apiece.
Both teams will return on April 12 at the Filoil EcoOil Centre, the first gameday after the Holy Week break.
UP will face Ateneo de Manila University at 9:00 a.m., while NU will battle Adamson University at 5:00 p.m.