Bulldogs book fourth straight Finals appearance
Mark Escarlote on Apr 20, 2016 04:48 PM
NU showed resolve and resilience and used its championship experience to turn back the feisty Adamson Falcons as the Bulldogs set up a championship date with the defending champion Ateneo de Manila.
National University gets chance to regain the men’s title they lost last year.
The Bulldogs bucked a sluggish start and capitalized on Adamson losing its star setter in the third set to escape with a 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23, win in do-or-die Final Four Wednesday to forge a 78th UAAP men’s volleyball championship rematch with Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
NU entered its fourth Finals stint in a row and will meet the reigning champion Blue Eagles for the third straight time.
"'Yung sa first set hindi namin alam ang gagawin namin. Sobrang agresibo ng kalaban namin," said NU coach Dante Alinsunuri. "Sabi ko sa mga players ko dahan-dahan lang para yung pace natin komportable."
NU showed resolve and resilience and used its championship experience as the Bulldogs fought back from a 12-16 deficit in the third set and overtook the Falcons, 22-21, on a telling run capped by back-to-back aces from rookie James Natividad.
The Falcons, which forced a decider with a 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-22 last Sunday, threatened as they closed the gap, 24-23, but Madzlan Gampong perfectly timed his jump to send back the attack of Bryan Sudaria as NU celebrated its victory.
NU and Ateneo open the championship series – the rivals third straight – on Saturday at the Big Dome starting 12:00 noon.
The Bulldos and Blue Eagles split their first two Finals showdown.
Natividad had 15 points, Bryan Bagunas punched in 13 kills in his total of 15 points while Ruben Baysac, Gampong and Kim Malabunga had 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively, for the Bulldogs.
Adamson lost playmaker Karlle Nico Ramirez in the third set when the setter crashed and injured his left shoulder when it hit a panel monitor while trying to save a ball.
With Ramirez grimacing in pain on the bench while putting ice on his shoulder, NU settled on their defensive play with Adamson sacrificing Bryan Saraza as a relief setter.
Dave Pletado and Paolo Pablico finished with 14 points each while Sudaria and Jerome Sarmiento had 11 and 10 markers for Adamson.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles