NATIONAL University moved on the cusp of sweeping the UAAP Season 85 men's volleyball elimination round after trouncing University of Santo Tomas, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 25-21, Wednesday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
The 13-0 Bulldogs will go for the outright Finals berth and their 32nd straight win on Saturday, 9 a.m., against the 7-6 Ateneo de Manila University.
“Naging labanan ito ng service receive, kung sino ang mas mataas ang percentage doon yun ang naging barometer ng game,” said NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin. “Thankful kami sa naging performance ng players namin kahit may konting lapses namin hindi sila bumibigay.
“Kailangan namin paghandaan (ang Ateneo) kasi doon nakasalalay ang magiging ranking nila so alam namin magiging agresibo sila kaya kailangan pang pag-aralan ulit,” he said on the Blue Eagles.
The Bulldogs clawed all the way back from being down seven early in the second set to tie it at 20-all but returning Jayrack Dela Noche punched in back-to-back hits for the 22-20 Golden Spikers' lead. Gboy de Vega then capped the equalizer with an off-the-block kill and a service ace, 25-22.
But NU regained control in the third with a strong start before preserving that advantage for good for the lopsided third salvo, 25-18.
Knotted at 17 in the fourth, captain setter Joshua Retamar utilized Obed Mukaba, Nico Almendras, and Ken Malinis while UST also shot itself with three errors to give the Bulldogs their 31st consecutive triumph.
Retamar steered NU's balanced attack with 19 excellent sets to go with eight digs and six points, including two blocks.
Malinis led four Bulldogs in double digits with 16 points, while Almendras and Michaelo Buddin went for 13 points apiece with the latter also making 16 excellent receptions.
Congo's Mukaba also tallied 12 points including a match-high eight blocks of NU's 15 rejections.
It was the Golden Spikers' first losing streak of the season, dropping their second straight game to fall at 10-3.
Josh Ybañez got 19 points and five digs, De Vega added 14 points and 22 receptions, while Dela Noche had 10 points for the Golden Spikers.
UST, which has already clinched the No. 2 ranking in the semifinals, will cap the elims against also-ran University of the Philippines on Sunday, 5 p.m.
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