Former champion National University (NU) posted a thrilling 23-25, 25-20, 15-25, 25-21, 15-12 win over Far Eastern University (FEU) to claim the last finals slot in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 men’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Outside hitter Bryan Bagunas delivered 23 points on 18 attacks, three blocks and a pair of aces to power the Bulldogs to their fifth straight finals appearance. He also had eight receptions and five digs.
“We just didn’t give up. We stayed focused; we trusted each other that we can do it despite trailing in some moments of the game especially in the fourth set. And I am happy that we responded well. It’s a team effort,” said Bagunas.
Open spiker Fauzi Ismail also fired 18 points on 15 kills, two aces and a block while middle blocker Kim Malabunga chipped in 10 markers including five of NU’s 13 blocks in the game that lasted for two hours and 11 minutes.
NU arranged a best-of-three championship showdown with Ateneo de Manila University.
The Blue Eagles automatically advanced to the finals after completing a 14-game sweep in the elimination round.
Ateneo shoots for a three-peat while NU guns for its third title.
The Game 1 of the Bulldogs-Blue Eagles finals is on Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
“We won’t stop here. We need to train hard in the coming days to ensure that we’re all ready before facing Ateneo on Tuesday. We need to display solid game against the defending champions,” added Bagunas.
Meanwhile, the Game 1 of the women’s best-of-three finals between Ateneo and defending champion De La Salle University is also scheduled on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the same venue.
EMIL C. NOGUERA