UAAP FINALS: NU overpowers Ateneo, one win away from title

Mark Escarlote on Apr 28, 2018 01:36 PM
UAAP FINALS: NU overpowers Ateneo, one win away from title
Bryan Bagunas led National University to an emphatic sweep of three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 80 men's volleyball best-of-three Finals.

National University came out to win.

The three-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles just couldn’t find their rhythm.

Bryan Bagunas wreaked havoc on offense while the Bulldogs’ defense controlled the dreaded Blue Eagle spiker four-time Most Valuable Player Marck Espejo to take Game 1 via emphatic sweep, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23, Saturday in the UAAP Season 80 men’s volleyball best-of-three Finals at the Big Dome.

NU was hot all game long as the Bulldogs collected their first win in the championship since Season 76 – the school’s last title conquest and the first of five straight Finals meetings with the Blue Eagles.

Game 2 is on Wednesday.

Bagunas scattered 19 points off 16 attacks, two kill blocks and an ace for the Bulldogs. The fourth year national team member added 16 excellent receptions and six digs.

The Bulldogs played solid defense at the net with Madzlan Gampong scoring five kill blocks while James Natividad had three in NU’s 13 kill blocks overall that frustrated the hitters of Ateneo. Natividad finished with 17 points while Gampong had 11 for the Bulldogs.

Espejo, who averaged 46 points per game in two semifinals encounters with twice-to-beat Far Eastern University, was limited to only 16 points in a 16-of-44 attacking clip.   

“’Yun nga, talagang sa start, nag-focus kami sa, na yung mga service namin. Yung serve talaga ang kailangan naming unahin, kasi ito 'yung mga bagay talaga na kailangan namin kontrolin,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin. “Pangalawa is 'yung blocking talaga namin. Kasi if maganda yung service namin, sigurado makaka-block kami pag nag-misreceive sila, kaya na-control namin sa block.”

NU broke a 10-10 deadlock in the third set with a scoring burst capped by an attack by Gampong for a 16-11 lead. The Bulldogs’ pushed their lead to 22-17 before Ateneo made a final push.

The Blue Eagles came back knocking, 23-22, after Natividad sent his attack long. But Natividad made amends on his error with a solid kill block on Espejo.      

The Ateneo star saved a match point before Kim Malabunga’s attack sealed the win.

Ron Medalla scored 11 while Gian Glorioso had five for the Blue Eagles.



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