National University’s James Buytrago and Pol Salvador overcame University of Santo Tomas’ Efraem Dimaculangan and Rancel Varga, 12-21, 21-17, 15-12, in an exciting opening day duel of fancied teams in the UAAP men’s beach volleyball tournament at Sands SM By The Bay Friday.
After the three-peat-seeking Tiger Spikers grabbed the opening set, the Bulldogs finally got in the groove in the second to force a decider.
UST was ahead, 8-5, in the third when Salvador’s kill jumpstarted NU’s 5-0 run to take a 10-8 advantage, setting the stage for a thrilling ending.
Dimaculangan’s block forced the match’s final deadlock at 11-11 when reigning MVP Varga committed a service error on the next rally followed by a Buytrago spike and a huge block on Dimaculangan to put the Bulldogs on the cusp of victory.
The Tigers were able to save a match point courtesy of a Dimaculangan kill when Salvador closed out the contest with a spike.
It was a morale-boosting win for NU after opening the season with a shock loss to De La Salle’s Noel Kampton and Vince Maglinao, 21-12, 15-21, 11-15.
The Bulldogs improved to 1-1.
Two-time Southeast Asian Games bronze medalist Jaron Requinton is the Tigers’ third player and can be elevated anytime in the tournament.
Ateneo’s Abai Llenos and Amil Pacinio bested Far Eastern University’s Jelord Talisayan and Vincent Nadera, 21-15, 21-15, and Adamson University’s Ned Pacquing and Francis Casas, 21-19, 21-14, for perfect 2-0 record.
It was a massive turnaround for the Blue Eagles, who were winless in the league’s most recent competition in 2019.
De La Salle also went 2-0 following a 21-19, 21-11 romp of University of the Philippines’ Daniel Nicolas and Louis Gamban.
The Fighting Maroons, who scored a 21-15, 21-11 win over the Falcons in the morning session, dropped to 1-1.
Action resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday with FEU-Adamson, UST-UP, and Ateneo-De La Salle in the morning session, and NU-UP, FEU-De La Salle, and UST-Ateneo in the afternoon play starting at 1 p.m.