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Saturday, May 18, 2024

NU Bulldogs complete rare ‘4-peat’ in UAAP volleyball

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National University sealed a date with history as it achieved a rare ‘four-peat’ in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Men’s Volleyball by re-asserting its dominance over University of Santo Tomas.

The Bulldogs reigned supreme in Season 86 after sweeping the Golden Spikers for the second straight year in the best-of-three Finals, taking Game 2 in four sets, 25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 25-15, on Wednesday afternoon, witnessed by 17,089 fans at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Despite losing to UST in both of their matches in the elimination round, NU scored wins in the games that mattered most – the Finals – by also nabbing Game 1, 25-17, 26-24, 25-19.

The Bulldogs became the first team to accomplish a ‘four-peat’ since UST did it in Season 70 to 73.

“Sobrang thankful kasi nakita ko na sa mga player ko pagpunta pa lang namin dito na gusto na nilang kunin itong championship,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin.

Fittingly, it was graduating spiker Nico Almendras who dealt the finishing blows for the Bulldogs, putting them at match point with the sharpest of crosscourt kills while also nailing the clincher via a through-the-block hammer between Popoy Colinares and Jay Rack Dela Noche for the championship in one hour and 54 minutes.

The Golden Spikers equalized in the second frame with a 25-22 victory, but National U’s response stunned, shocked, and paralyzed UST.

The Bulldogs, led by Michaelo Buddin, Almendras, and Leo Aringo, put on a show in the third, utterly dominating the Golden Spikers, leading by as much as 20-9, to move a set away from their sixth overall crown in the division.

Sophomore outside spiker Buddin delivered a game-high 28 points on 22 attacks, five blocks, and one ace to go with 16 receptions – proving to be the missing piece after not playing in their two elimination round games against UST.

Leo Aringo added 22 points on 18 attacks, three blocks, and one ace, while Almendras had 20 points and 17-of-21 excellent receptions in his final game.

Graduating playmaker Owa Retamar tossed 26 excellent sets to go with three points to be named as the Finals MVP for the second straight year. He had 24 excellent sets and five points in Game 1.

“Nakakaproud ‘yung team namin. Nu’ng nagmeeting kami ng eam, sinabi ko sa kanila kapag nag-champion tayo ngayon magtutuloy-tuloy ‘yan kasi madadala niyo ‘yung pride ng pagiging champion,” said Retamar.

The blocking of the Bulldogs made the biggest difference with 16 rejections to the Golden Spikers’ three.

It was a delight for volleyball fans as the game featured minimal errors with NU only committing 13 and UST only having 12.

Back-to-back league MVP Josh Ybañez carried the Golden Spikers with 24 points and seven digs while Gboy De Vega added 15 points and 15 receptions.

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