UAAP VOLLEYBALL: NU tops Ateneo to clinch a semis twice-to-beat advantage

Mark Escarlote on Apr 15, 2018 01:56 PM
 NU tops Ateneo to clinch a semis twice-to-beat advantage
National University ended a 13-game losing streak against three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University with a four-set win to claim the last Final Four twice-to-beat advantage.

National University snapped a long losing slump against bitter rival three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University with a convincing 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-19, win Sunday to secure the last Final Four twice-to-beat advantage in the 80th UAAP men’s volleyball tournament at the MOA Arena.

The Bulldogs tied Far Eastern University with 12-2 win-loss record but claimed the top seeding in the semifinals against the winner between University of Sto. Tomas and Adamson University, which will meet in a playoff for the no. 4 spot on Wednesday.

Bryan Bagunas hammered 18 kills in his 19-point performance to lead NU while Madzlan Gampong added 13 markers all from attacks including the match-clinching crosscourt kill that went off the hands of Blue Eagles libero Manuel Sumanguid. Bagunas added 13 excellent receptions and eight digs.

Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura scored 13 and 11, respectively, for the Bulldogs, who snapped a 13-game losing streak against Ateneo since Season 77.

“Sabi ko nga, sa wakas, nakaisa rin kami ulit,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, whose squad’s last win over the Blue Eagles was in Season 76 during the Finals. “Ang tagal naming pinag-aralan, ang tagal naming pinag-handaan talaga itong laro na ito.”

“Sabi ko, ito na 'yung time talaga na may chance kaming manalo sa kanila. Kasi halos sa ikutan ng first six, medyo lamang kami sa opensa at depensa. Kaya sabi namin sa player, kunin talaga namin 'yung No. 1, lalo na noong naka-set 'yung UST sa FEU, sabi ko, ito na talaga, binibigay sa atin 'yung chance na makuha natin 'yung No. 1 sa elimination,” he added.

NU went behind 8-11 in the fourth set before blasting an 8-1 scoring spurt to take a 16-12 lead.

The Bulldogs stretched the gap to 21-14 on a kill block by Saura against four-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo. Ateneo saved a match point, 19-24, before NU sealed the win with Gampong’s booming kill.

Ateneo finished the eliminations with an 11-3 slate at no. 3 spot and will face the twice-to-beat advantage Tamaraws in Final Four.

Espejo finished with 23 points anchored on 21 kills, Ron Medalla had 14 while Chumason Njigha had 11 for the Katipunan-based squad, which failed to clinch a semis advantage for the first time in five seasons.




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