UAAP Season 81: Bulldogs near back-to-back titles
Mark Escarlote on May 11, 2019 02:11 PM
National University inched closer to a repeat crown after drawing first blood against Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 81 men's volleyball best-of-three Finals.
Defending champion National University flirted with disaster after yielding the opening set before coming back mightily to draw first blood over Far Eastern University, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-18, on Saturday in the UAAP Season 81 men’s volleyball best-of-three Finals series at the Big Dome.
The Bulldogs kept their composure after a shaky start to move a step closer to their second straight title and fourth mint overall.
James Natividad blasted 16 points off 15 attacks and an ace to help NU seniors Bryan Bagunas, Kim Malabunga and Francis Saura. Season Most Valuable Player Bagunas scored 18 points with 16 coming off kills and added 15 excellent receptions for the Bulldogs, who pounded 52 spike points.
Head coach Dante Alinsunurin credited NU's championship experience as their biggest advantage over the Tams, who are just in their first Finals stint since losing to the Bulldogs in Season 75.
“Lumamang kami sa experience namin sa championship and 'yun ang nagamit namin sa larong ito,” said NU coach Dante Alinsunurin, whose squad is on its seventh straight Finals appearance.
Game 2 is on Wednesday.
The Bulldogs recovered from a set down to tie the match at 1-1. NU showed nerves of steel in the closing strech of the third frame, coming back from a 21-22 deficit to take a 23-2 advantage off a Bagunas attack.
Peter Quiel tied it as 23 but Seasn Padon overcooked her service before Jude Garcia comitted another attack error that gave the match lead to the Bulldogs.
With momentum on its side, the Bulldogs raced to an 18-9 lead for a comfortable cushion before crusing to the win.
Solis led FEU with 17 points coming off 15 kills and two aces while JP Bugaoan and Jude Garcia got 14 and nine markers, respectively.
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